Being Gluten Free in Italy

Having lived with diabetes for the past 14 years, but having travelled all over the world with it. I know about the potential anxieties associated, especially with food and the impact its availability can have on my condition whilst abroad. But now with having been gluten-free/ coeliac to consider it's something that I do give an extra level of thought to. In terms of what kinds of foods will be available when I get somewhere, or what should I take with me to ensure I have something.

Fresh gluten free bread rolls made by the chef at Radisson Blu, Milan

I haven't spoken about it much before on the blog, I guess because I've been getting my head around managing it myself. But type 1 diabetes and coeliac diseases are often linked, especially as they're both autoimmune conditions. Most of all, I've noticed and felt the way that they are linked in terms of blood glucose control. By this I mean that if I am given gluten by accident in a food, then my blood glucose levels sky rocket and I really struggle to bring them back down until the food is digested from my system. In addition to experiencing the more usual 'glutened' symptoms. When I'm going out somewhere and know that I will need to eat because of the diabetes, only having gluten containing food around, but not being able to eat it is incredibly frustrating.

Rustic omelette made fresh to order by the chef at Radisson Blu, Milan

But from my trip this week to Milan, and from my holiday to Lake Garda in Italy last year, I've learnt that the people of Italy do gluten free food very well- both in terms of both taste and the abundance of what's available. Upon speaking to another delegate at breakfast that is from Italy originally, she told me that Italy has made huge strides in recent years towards diagnosis of coeliac disease, awareness and in the way it caters for people with the condition. Even that people with coeliac are often able to receive upto €300/ month towards the purchase of their gluten free foods.

Italian gluten free snacks

As I mentioned in blogs before when I went to Strasbourg, I love visiting the local supermarket abroad to see what's available. I'm sure it's got a lot to do with studying human nutrition and dietetics, but I find it fascinating! The concierge in my hotel recommended a big supermarket to shop at near where I was staying in Milan, that I would probably liken to a Sainsburys type of size store in the UK. It had a massive gluten free food section with maybe 20 different types of breads! I chose the focaccia bread, to make a sandwich from later, which turned out to be so soft and a lovely doughy texture too.

Delicious Italian Latte

Wandering round I was especially mesmerised by the fresh fish counter which had a whole sword fish on display! Along with loads of octopus', and lobsters in a tank that people could select to take home. The size of the fruit and veg was huge too compared to what we find in the UK, but wasn't as cheap as you sometimes find elsewhere in Europe.

Fresh fruit


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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