November Is National Diabetes Month

Girl testing blood sugar

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects more than 37 million U.S. adults. In the last 20 years the number of adults diagnosed has more than doubled, and one in five of all adults with diabetes do not know they have it.

Most of the food we eat is converted into glucose (sugar). Glucose is used as energy to fuel our bodies, including our muscles and brains. Too much glucose in our blood causes damage to our eyes, nerves, kidneys, and hearts. Insulin is a hormone that allows our body to use glucose for energy.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when a person’s body does not use insulin well. More than 90% of people with diabetes have type 2, which develops over many years. You can manage symptoms or prevent type 2 diabetes by being physically active, eating nutritious food, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Type 1 diabetes is when a person’s body does not make enough insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin to manage their blood glucose.

Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about diabetes or visit the CDC Diabetes website,, for more information.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Iowa Public Health,

Is shrinkflation affecting your finances?

Aisles in grocery store

We’re used to our favorite cereal costing $3.50 per box, so when the price goes up to $4.00 it’s something we notice. But do we notice when the box contains only 15 ounces instead of the 18 ounces it used to hold? From fewer toilet paper sheets to less toothpaste ounces, consumers are reporting “shrinkflation”—reduced product amounts for regular purchases, due to inflation.

Because we pay more attention to price when we shop, we don’t notice subtle changes in packaging or read details about the size or weight of a product. During periods of high inflation, companies may downsize products so they can keep prices unchanged, resulting in shrinkflation.

Unit pricing is a way to compare similar products to find the best value. Check out Iowa State University’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app or webpage,, for a unit pricing calculator!

Creating a self-care plan

What does self-care look like for you? The emphasis being on “self,” meaning it’s personal. What works for you may not work for others. Self-care is about engaging in healthy activities that you can do to fill your cup.

There are eight “ACTION” areas that we can take to preserve or improve our health. These are listed below. As you read through them, consider what it is that you do for your own self-care under that dimension of wellness.

Community/Social Health—A sense of belonging, connecting with friends or your partner, attending community gatherings, volunteering

Intellectual Health—Exploring creative abilities and interests, expanding knowledge and skill, reading, brain games

Physical Health—Exercising, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, preventative care

Emotional Health—Adjusting to challenges, coping with life’s stressors, enjoying life, relaxation techniques, journaling

Environmental Health—Activities that focus on “reduce, reuse, recycle;” learning and relaxing in natural places (When was the last time you took a walk that reconnected you with nature?)

Occupational Health—Satisfaction from one’s work, coworker relationships, work-life balance

Spiritual Health—Activities that focus on expanding your sense of purpose and meaning in life, finding balance and peace

Financial Health—Steps for your current and future financial goals

Having a better understanding of the things that you can do to recharge better prepares you to handle life’s stressful situations. Consider creating your own self-care action plan with your favorite strategies in each of these eight dimensions of wellness.

Source: SAMHSA,

White Bean Dip

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons | Serves: 8

Bowl of crackers with white bean dip and vegetables


  • 1 can (15 ounces) white beans (drained and rinsed) (cannellini, great northern, or navy)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons oil (canola or olive)
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried herb (basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary)


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  2. Serve right away or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 4 days.


  • Serve with cut up vegetables or crackers. Use as a spread for a wrap or sandwich.

Nutrition information per serving:
90 calories, 3.5g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 180mg sodium, 11g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 0g sugar, 4g protein.

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website.
For more information, recipes, and videos, visit

Load up on these nutrients to fuel your brain!

Magnesium: spinach, pumpkin and chia seeds, soy milk, black beans, almonds, cashews, peanuts

Omega-3 fatty acids: walnuts, chia and flaxseeds, salmon, herring, sardines

Folate: beef liver, rice, fortified cereals, black-eyed peas, spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts

Iron: oysters, beef liver, fortified cereals, spinach, dark chocolate, white beans, lentils, tofu

Zinc: oysters, chicken, pork chops, beef roast, Alaska king crab, lobster, pumpkin seeds

B vitamins: chicken breast, beef liver, clams, tuna, salmon, chickpeas, potatoes, bananas

Vitamin A: beef liver, herring, cow’s milk, ricotta cheese, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe

Fermented foods: yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut

Remember the quality of your diet is more powerful than any one decision you make in a day. Foods play an important role in mental health, but they won’t have a significant impact on their own if you aren’t prioritizing overall diet quality, self-care, and other stress management strategies.

Harvard Health Publishing,
Mental Health America,
Health Line,

Food and Mood

An emerging field of research is nutritional psychiatry. This examines the relationship between diet and mental wellness or how foods affect our moods. One reason food choices affect our brain so much is our GI system, commonly called “the gut”—which is directly tied to our brain and the way we process emotions.

Common comfort foods (i.e., high-sugar and high-fat) are the least likely to benefit our mental health. Other harmful habits include eating processed foods, alcohol consumption, irregular meals, and lack of sleep.

The best way to support your mental health through diet is to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy, and whole grains.

Probiotic Primer

Bottle with pills

Probiotics are live microorganisms that may aid in improving gastric discomfort, reducing diarrhea caused by antibiotics, help with the digestion of lactose (the sugar in milk products), and lower the risk of infections. Probiotics can be found in some supplements. When choosing a supplement, look for the strain and number of live bacteria to help ensure an effective dose.

Some foods have probiotics too, like fermented foods, which can contain live bacteria and aid in digestive health. It’s important to note that not all fermented foods have probiotics due to processing that can kill or remove the live microorganisms. Some foods with probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut (sold refrigerated), kefir (fermented dairy), and kombucha (fermented tea). The food label should state the type of live bacteria.

Talk to your doctor about the strain and amount of probiotic recommended for the health benefit you are seeking and if probiotics are appropriate for you.

International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics,

Tracking Food Costs

Costs are up! Consider tracking food expenses to learn where your money is going. Use an online app or the old-fashioned pen and paper.

  1. Keep receipts or write down all costs of food and beverages you buy. Include grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores, coffee shops, and school lunch.
  2. Organize and total receipts by location at the end of the month.
  3. Look at how much you spent at each location.
    • Does anything surprise you?
    • Do you eat out more than you expected?
    • Can you share dinners with friends instead of eating out?
    • Do you need to learn new skills or recipes to make eating at home more fun?
    • Can you bring food from home instead of buying it away from home?

Start small and make one change each month. In time, the change will add up to big savings.

Source: Spend Smart. Eat Smart.,

Roasted Vegetables and Kielbasa

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 4

Plate with roasted vegetables and kielbasa, fruit, roll, drink


  • 5 cups chopped vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, peppers, potatoes, zucchini)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive, vegetable)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 turkey kielbasa (13 ounces)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together chopped vegetables, oil, ground black pepper.
  3. Cut kielbasa into round pieces 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Stir kielbasa into vegetables.
  5. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spread vegetables & kielbasa evenly over baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir.
  7. Bake for up to 25 minutes more, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Cooking time depends on size of vegetable pieces.

Nutrition information per serving:
250 calories, 12g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 710mg sodium, 22g carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber, 15g protein. This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart.,

For a Safe Plate, Do Not Cross-Contaminate

Cutting vegetables on a cutting board

September is Food Safety Education Month. This year the focus is preventing cross contamination.

  1. Separate meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in the grocery cart and refrigerator.
  2. Raw chicken does not need to be washed in either water or vinegar before cooking. It is ready to cook. Washing raw poultry can splash germs around the sink and kitchen.
  3. Use separate cutting boards and knives for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Use a different cutting board for bread, vegetables, and fruits.
  4. If you only have one cutting board, cut produce, bread, and other ready-to-eat foods first, then wash the cutting board with soap and hot water before cutting raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
    • The cutting board should always be washed with soap and hot water between each different food item.
    • Wash hands after handling meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  5. Wash utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with soap and hot water after preparing meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  6. Use separate plates and utensils for raw meat, poultry, and seafood as well as cooked meat, poultry, and seafood.