Where I’ve Been & Where I’m Going!

Long time, no post friends!

My last post was September 22, 2020 to be exact… And wow has a lot happened between then & now.

To say it’s been the hardest 1.5 years of my life in my almost 30 years is an UNDERSTATEMENT. 😦 Between living generally in a pandemic, finishing my unpaid dietetic internship (DI) in a pandemic (the last step needed & now I’m eligible to take my boards exam to FINALLY become a RD), suffering a foot stress fracture, learning I have low bone density at age 28, not being able to run most of the last 1.5 years, & various random health issues like low iron levels & mysterious abdominal pain, I thought things were as tough as they could get. BOY was I wrong. In May 2021 my life changed forever when I learned I have a hereditary cancer syndrome called Lynch Syndrome. Learn more about what that means for me from this post on my Instagram in May since I don’t want to retype it all now. It’s not even the main focus of this update. I’m sure I will write more about Lynch Syndrome here in the near future. I will say despite all the hardships there were two big pros the last 1.5 years: graduating from my DI & becoming a homeowner (my husband & I bought a condo in July)! But everything else has been a challenge. 😦

Virtual White Coat ceremony for my DI in August 2020 (while in a boot due to a stress fracture)

And the real reason for this update is to share a story I haven’t shared before. At least until I shared it last week on my Instagram. But I wanted to share that here too, as it’s easier to read here. And it’s a doozy. It’s my eating disorder (ED) story. It relates to everything that has happened the last 1.5 years because all of it, especially my Lynch Syndrome diagnosis, led me to relapse into an illness I thought I was over with… I shared on Instagram because last week was NEDA (National Eating Disorders Awareness) week & I felt inspired to finally share my story, but we should be raising awareness on EDs 365 days/year as they affect people of all sizes, genders, socio economic statuses, sexual orientations, ages, etc.


This is my first time publicly sharing my eating disorder story. The reason I haven’t shared yet has been due to fear, shame because of the profession I’m entering, & because my story is still being written. But I was inspired by runner Allie Ostrander’s instagram post on Feb. 23, 2022 where she challenged her followers to share a story to change a story. If my story helps one person feel less alone or seek treatment than it will be worth it. 💜 So here goes nothing!⠀

It started at the end of 7th grade. I had just gone through puberty & started my period a few months prior. I had gained some weight. Someone commented on my weight & encouraged me to lose a few lbs. I did not think much about my body prior to this. In fact, I’ve been a petite individual my entire life & was at the time of the comment. I lost those few pounds quickly by the start of summer by swapping out my snacks & sometimes skipping meals. I was also very active & on a travel soccer team. I didn’t stop there, though. I’d play dance dance revolution between soccer practices. My struggles mostly flew under the radar. Although one of my travel soccer coaches that summer noticed something was amiss at a practice where I got lightheaded. He offered me Gatorade & asked if I eat enough overall. I lied & said I do. 

By the start of 8th grade I lost my period & by my freshmen year of high school I had lost 10+ lbs. I also joined the cross country team to train for soccer. I ended up being naturally good at running, even more so than soccer. I realized I did not look like some of the other runners (I now know runners don’t have a “look”, but did not at 14). I started counting calories. I was SO hungry. But I was also doing really well in school & sports, so few knew I was suffering. I told my doctors about my period loss & they brushed it off as a normal part of training. I was never formally diagnosed with an ED back then, but as an almost RD I realized I met most criteria for anorexia & probably should have received treatment. 😔

Little Amanda at the 8th grade dance circa 2006. Sorry for the poor quality photo, but this was well before I had an iPhone!

By my sophomore year of high school I became curious about nutrition & decided I wanted to run competitively in college. I realized if I wanted a chance at it I’d probably need to gain my period back & maybe even gain some weight. By my junior year I gained ~10-15 lbs & my period returned! I thought I was cured of my ED….But what I see now is it just moved more toward general disordered eating, & bad body image. This was a spot I stayed at for YEARS. I was able to go out with friends or my boyfriend (my now husband!) & eat, but I tended to pick “healthier” options & stress about what I was eating under the guise of caring about food/my training.

I had horrible body image, especially once I went to college to run for a D1 school. I felt like I did not look like the other girls I ran against. I under-fueled for my activity levels & remember trying to stay at or under 1500 calories when I’d log my food. I wasn’t always logging my food, though. I was still going out to eat, having fun, etc. but definitely thoughts about food & body image occupied a fair amount of my time. By my junior year of college I lost a little weight again & some people noticed. They’d say I looked “fit” & I LOVED the compliments. I also had my best season so far. I stayed around this weight for years & in this weird spot of being aware of what I ate & sometimes tracking, but not always. Bad body image thoughts occupied less space in my mind, but they were still whispering. Then, by the time I graduated from college. I was so burnt out from competitive running (and likely years of under-fueling) that I did not run much for a few years.

Junior year of college at the Midwest Cross Country Regional meet. It was 2012 & I was 20 years old.

It wasn’t until after I turned 25, got married, went vegan, & decided that I would train for marathon that I felt healthy & at peace with food compared to the last 12+ years. I also decided to go back to school to study to become a RD, as I was not enjoying the teaching profession. I still had some struggles but nothing like it had been. But then the pandemic hit & in June 2020 I was diagnosed with my 1st ever stress fracture. And I learned I also have low bone density at age 28. I’m shocked I made it that long without a stress fracture considering everything. I was so angry at past me for not taking better care of my body. 😡 Of course I know it wasn’t really my fault, but it was & still is hard. I vowed I’d do better moving forward, so I wouldn’t suffer another fracture, improve my bone density, & reach all my running goals. Unfortunately life didn’t quite work out that way. ☹️

A photo from our wedding on July 14, 2017.

In May 2021, toward the end of my dietetic internship, after experiencing some weird health issues, I found out I have a hereditary cancer syndrome called. Lynch Syndrome The news DEVASTATED me. 😭I withdrew from most people & fell into a deep depression. I have a history of anxiety & depression since age 12, but this was the worst it had ever been. I was struggling to eat & I became afraid of most foods I used to love, even black beans. I lost weight & people noticed. I felt so lost, embarrassed, & ashamed. I blamed it on my depression. What I did not realize at the time was that I was relapsing into my ED. It was just in a new form. The lynch syndrome diagnosis + pandemic stress were the triggers.

This photo was taken in June 2021, about a month after I learned I had Lynch Syndrome.

 I sought extra help when I realized my issues might be more than depression. In December 2021 I was diagnosed with ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). My food fears were/are mainly due to fear of cancer & sickness rather than a desire to change the shape of my body. Although with my past history of a restrictive eating disorder & some body image issues, I technically have ARFID “Plus” (a combination of ARFID & a restrictive eating disorder).

I am currently in outpatient treatment (this includes a therapist & RD) & I am chasing recovery. I am still going to reach all my running goals & then some + I’m going to be a sports & plant-based RD very soon! Expect some changes to this website when that happens. And If you want to be a future client of mine you can hop on my waitlist. Furthermore, I’m going to go through my Lynch Syndrome screenings each year as bravely as I can & hopefully I don’t develop cancer. Being the healthiest version of myself will only help in all areas of my life!

Thank you for reading if you made it to the end! 🤗 And if any of you are suffering NEDA is a great place to find resources. You deserve recovery too. 💕

Black Bean Surprise Bites

Happy Tuesday friends!

The old saying goes better late, than never, right?! I hope in this situation that is the case. 🙂

I promised both in person (before the pandemic) and on my Instagram months ago that I would share the final recipe my lab partner Gian & I developed in our Experimental Foods class last semester. So, I’m finally getting to that! 😛 If that’s all you are here for maybe just scroll to the recipe. 😆 But before you do enjoy this lovely hairnet photo.🤣

One of the 1st versions of Black Bean Surprise bites

I know that my semester is long over and I promise I did not forget about sharing the recipe! I just got sidetracked by many other things in my life from my development of an unexpected stress fracture in my foot to the beginning of my dietetic internship. Not to mention that going through life during a pandemic, extreme political division, and civil unrest has been tough, sad, and trying. 😦 But today is not the day to discuss all of those things, although I certainly can in a future post if there is interest.

I do plan to write about my stress fracture from a nutritional and running standpoint here, though, but also let me know in the comments or via e-mail if you want any posts of being a dietetic intern, being a dietetic intern during a pandemic, eating/cooking at home (because of the pandemic), work from home tips, etc.👇🏻 I’d really like to write posts here more than every month or two. So ideas are super helpful!

Anyway, let’s get to what you all really came here for, the recipe! It was interesting because we started the recipe development in class, but the class was moved to online after midterms due to COVID, so we were not able to do as many trials of the recipe as we would have liked. We are still pretty pleased with the final version and hope you are too!

Mixing everything in one of the early versions of the recipe.

The snack bites have hidden vegetables and legumes (sweet potatoes, kale, and black beans), but we don’t think you can even taste them. So they are perfect for picky eaters (just don’t tell them 🤐 )! And each 2 bite serving has ~7 grams of protein and ~6.5 grams of fiber! Who knew a vegan snack that tastes like an almond joy could be so healthy?! Black beans really are amazing! 😉 These are a great snack to add to your weekly meal prep rotation and the perfect lunchbox or midday treat! 🙂

Yield: 16 bites (8 servings)

Ingredients

1/2 can black beans

1/2 cup vegan chocolate protein powder (we used Garden of Life Organic Plant-Based Chocolate Sport Protein Powder)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (we used Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup water

1 sweet potato

1 bunch of fresh kale

13 Medjool dates, pitted

3/4 cup salted, slivered almonds

1/3 cup coconut flakes

4 teaspoons cinnamon

How to make Black Bean Snack Bites:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit for at least 10 minutes.

2. Drain and rinse black beans in a large colander 3 times with tap water.Wash, peel, and cut sweet potatoes  into bite sized pieces.

3. Boil the sweet potatoes under medium heat and a high flame on the stove top until soft (about 15 minutes).

4. Wash fresh kale under cold water and chop into small pieces.

5. Steam for 5-10 mins, or until kale is soft, but retains bright green color. Then set aside.

6. Remove pits from dates and chop them into smaller pieces.

7. Combine black beans, protein powder, cocoa powder, coconut oil, vanilla, sweet potatoes, dates and kale in the food processor.

8. Process at high speed until completely smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides if necessary. If the mixture is too dry add ~50 mL of water to the mixture.

9. Carefully remove the blade and stir in the chocolate chips and salted slivered almonds.

10. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of mixture into paper cups and place into a 14 x 11 muffin pan. 

11. Sprinkle cinnamon and coconut flakes onto the surface of the each piece. 

12. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the center.

13. Let cool for 15-20 minutes.

14. Remove cups from the pan. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.

15. Store leftover bites in the fridge in an airtight container, such as a Tupperware. They will keep for a few days in the refrigerator and even longer in the freezer. They taste best chilled!

Enjoy this quick, easy, and nutritious recipe! Let me know if you try it! And feel free to tag me on Instagram @fueling.veggie.athletes or e-mail me when you do!

Why The Name Change?

Hi everyone! 

You may have noticed the new website name & social media handles a couple weeks ago! I promise I am still the same black bean queen! #teamblackbeans4life

BUT it was time for a change. Especially since I will offically be a licensed and practicing Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in less than a year! I honestly cannot believe it! All that stands in my way is my required dietetic internship (where I gain ~1200 hours of practical experience) and then I have to sit for & pass my licensure exam. I’m nervous & excited for this new chapter in my life, so please send all the good vibes my way! And comment below or e-mail me if you want me to write about either the journey to becoming a RDN or my experience in my dietetic internship. It’s definitely going to be an interesting several months with the global coronavirus pandemic….

But now you’re probably wondering, why the name change?! Especially since I’ve been the Black Bean Queen for nearly 6 years and black beans are my favorite food. Seriously. 😛

The answer: I wanted my website and social media handles to better reflect my goals: to inspire other runners + athletes, show that you can be a successful athlete by eating vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based, & to give ideas on HOW to eat to be a successful veggie athlete! There are some exciting things in the works on my end, but that’s all I’m going to say for now. 😉 Have a great evening, friends! 🙂

 ⠀