Yesterday, I went to a health food convention-type-thing (I'm not really sure what to call it!) in Madrid called SalAIA or Salón de productos y servicios para Alergias e Intolerancias Alimentarias - in English, Products and Services for People with Food Allergies and Intolerances. Now, I knew this wouldn't necessarily cover diabetes, but it was free to go and went with a friend who is coeliac, so I got to hang out with her.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I actually really enjoyed it. For a start, there were free food samples, and who doesn't love free food samples?! We casually walked round, talking to people at their stalls (N.B. talking dietary requirements in Spanish is incredibly difficult!), finding out what products they had to offer. Of course, being more about food allergies, I was asked several times what it was I was allergic/intolerant to, and diabetes is neither of those. I responded saying I had type one diabetes, and not an actual allergy and it was so refreshing to hear the following response:
"Everything in moderation then, just make sure you cover those treats with insulin."
My face must have been a picture! I'm so used to the whole "that means you can't eat sugar" kind of response that I didn't quite know what to do with the response I actually got! I'm not gonna complain though, as those responses are rare! There was the odd stall with sugar-free products, but, I translate and quote, "now, we encourage everything in moderation: there's no need to cut sugar out completely, and artificial sweeteners aren't always good." At this particular event, their diabetes-related comments brought a smile to my face: I was in an environment where people "got it" and I loved it! Go SalAIA!
Spain are so on the ball when it comes to coeliacs disease! There are entire shops dedicated to gluten free products, restaurants have specific gluten-free menus, and you can even get gluten free burgers in McDonalds! The amount of products available to people living with coeliacs disease is so incredibly vast, unlike back home where options are very limited. It's no wonder my friend's planning on filling her suitcase up with gluten free goodies when she returns to the UK!