Diabetes Diet #62: World Diabetes Day and Pulses

Diabetes Recipes:

Roasted Chick Peas
Lentil and Spinach Soup

It was quite overwhelming to be 1 of the 12,000 people in attendance at the International Diabetes Federation’s (IDF) World Diabetes Congress in Montreal, Canada in October. For 5 days the Palais de Congress bustled like some colorful global bazaar with streams of people from over 150 nations, speaking different languages, some dressed in their native garb and all communicating in the common bond of diabetes.

IDF chose Canada for a few reasons, one of them being that Canada is the home of major breakthroughs in the field of diabetes. We all know about Banting and Best. I might not be here to write this article and some of us might not be here to read it if it weren’t for Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best and their group of scientists discovering the use of insulin as treatment for diabetes mellitus. They gave us the gift of life in 1922 in Toronto. The world has changed quite a bit since then and although their discovery still remains a lifeline, the diabetes population has exploded beyond belief. Most recent numbers published in the 4th edition IDF Atlas in Montreal reveal that 285 million people worldwide live with diabetes and indications show that the numbers of people in low and middle income countries are increasing rapidly and that far more people of working age are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes than had been estimated.

Projections over the next several years are even more dismal. Diabetes is on the rise at an alarming rate in Canada and the US. The IDF has declared its global theme and profound message for the next 5 years as “Education and Prevention” in hopes of educating health professionals and clinicians in successful ways to better teach patients about risk factors, symptoms and treatment to self manage diabetes.

What is IDF?

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organization of over 200 member associations in more than 160 countries, representing over 250 million people with diabetes, their families, and their healthcare providers. The mission of IDF is to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide. Its main activities include education for people with diabetes and healthcare professionals, public awareness campaigns and the promotion and exchange of information. IDF is a non-governmental organization in official relations with WHO and associated with the United Nations’ Department of Public Information. Visit www.idf.org

The organization has been around since 1952 when it held its first conference in the Netherlands. A couple hundred people attended that meeting. Over the years IDF has grown to become a colossal mass (12,000 in Montreal) and recognized point of global influence. One of its crowning achievements has been the adaptation of UN resolution 61/225 which recognizes diabetes as the first non-communicable world wide epidemic and encourages member nations to enact polices to strengthen their healthcare systems to prevent, educate and treat diabetes.

World Diabetes Day

IDF has made “Diabetes Education and Prevention” the theme of its World Diabetes Day campaign for the next five years – 2009-2013 – to address the global gaps in education. World Diabetes Day is a campaign led by IDF. The day is marked each year on November 14 and is officially recognized as a UN Day. IDF hopes that the awareness raised by the campaign will encourage healthcare systems everywhere to recognize the need to provide structured diabetes education and help establish access to skilled diabetes care as the right of every person with diabetes.

In the Labyrinth

There were symposiums, postcards, scientific sessions, open forums, workshops, speakers’ corners, discussion groups, lectures, the Global Village, where health professionals from over 150 countries offered information and were willing and eager to speak about diabetes in their home lands. Eighty-five exhibitors and many, many IDF volunteers were present to be sure that the event in Montreal ran smoothly. As one person walking through the labyrinth of it all, I observed talks on the positive effects of activity and exercise on diabetes, complimentary treatments such as meditation and breathing, and I listened to officials and speakers at press conferences talk on the research and studies and education programs in the diabetes global community. I spoke with patients and health professionals from Argentina to Zimbabwe and became immersed in the blue light of the “Diabetes Café” where people who live with diabetes told their stories and even sang their songs, I felt a sudden enormous realization of the vastness, the impact, of diabetes.

I went home to my own small spot on the planet with the thought of how very lucky I am, to have had and continue to have, the best information, education and care for diabetes. How fortunate I am to know so many friends in the diabetes community, where we support each other and help one another when we can, and if we can’t, we always find someone willing to assist. It made me think of the children throughout the world who don’t have the “gift of life” that I take for granted. Insulin and diabetes supplies simply haven’t gotten to their countries. I support the IDF’s Life for a Child campaign and hope you will too. Take a look at all the information on World Diabetes Day and maybe you will feel motivated to wear the blue circle pin, or place a blue candle in your window or even petition your local government to shine a blue light on a town landmark, all to bring awareness of the need to unite and make a better life of self management for the global diabetes community.

To learn more about IDF and World Diabetes Day, here are some useful websites to explore:


By the way, I learned a couple very interesting recipes at the conference and was particularly impressed with information on “pulses”.

Can You Eat a Pulse?

Pulses are the edible seeds of plants with pods. They contain 0 fats, are very high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, are low on the GI and contain complex carbohydrates. Pulses are an excellent source of folate, are gluten free and are a mainstay of the vegetarian diet. Dry peas, dry beans, lentils and chickpeas comprise the pulse family.
How Many Pulses Should You Eat?
You can eat pulses everyday, but if you are not accustomed to them as part of your regular diet then start slowly, working your way to ¾ cup per day, about the size of a tennis ball. When buying pulses, look for bright color, uniform size and smooth skin. Dry pulses can be stored in tightly covered containers in cool dark spot for years, but it is best to use within a year. Canned pulses are fine also, not to mention very convenient. Be sure to rinse well and drain before using.

To Soak or Not to Soak?

Dry beans, chickpeas and whole peas need soaking because their skins do not absorb water easily. Lentils and split peas do not need to be soaked. There are several soaking methods to choose from, all using the proportions of 3 cups water to 1 cup pulse:

  1. Overnight soak – which means soaking covered in fridge overnight.
  2. Quick soak – works by bringing water and pulse to a rapid boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and rest for 1-2 hours.
  3. Microwave soak – is done by placing pulse and water into appropriate container. Microwave on high for 10-15 minutes. Let stand for 1 hour.

Pulse Cooking Hints

Pulses like to take their time and prefer long slow cooking in a nice big saucepan, leaving them plenty of room to move around in order to develop their best flavor. They have a tendency to foam up and you can remedy that by adding a scant teaspoon of oil to the pot. Adding a couple cloves of fresh garlic and/or herbs makes for a nice aromatic flavor.

Diabetes Recipes
Roasted Chick Peas

4 cups cooked or 2 cans rinsed and drained chickpeas
3 T. canola oil
½ cup favorite seasoning.  Suggestions:  Curry, Cajun, Italian.

  1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and spread on parchment lined baking sheet. 
  2. Roast for 20 minutes in 400 oven.
  3. Stir well and roast another 20 minutes turning every 5 minutes.  Cool and enjoy as a healthy snack.

Nutritional Value: ¾ cup = 128 cal, 6 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 17 carb grams, 3 grams fiber

Lentil and Spinach Soup

2 cups dried green lentils
2 T. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 onions, chopped
6 cups low salt chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 small red potatoes, cubed
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cover lentils with 3 cups water.  Bring to boil, cover and simmer for ½ hour. 
  2. Sauté garlic and onions in oil until they start to brown. Add remaining ingredients, except lemon juice.  Add drained lentils.  Cook until potatoes and lentils are tender, about 1 hour.  Stir in lemon juice and serve.

Nutritional Value:1 cup = 150 cal, 4 fat grams, 1 gram protein, 21 carb grams, 4 grams fiber