I had the opportunity to attend the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Annual Meeting last week in San Antonio. I was there as an exhibitor for one of my clients, the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, promoting the orange spuds as a delicious, diabetic-friendly diet option. Despite the steamy Texas weather, I had a great experience, both professionally and personally.
I got my first taste of the conference on my flight to the Lone Star State last Tuesday. I sat next to an amazing woman who is a nurse, diabetic educator and mom to a son (my age) with type 1 diabetes. She’s dedicated herself to helping others with the condition, and as she shared stories about the people she’s worked with, I could feel her passion. Diabetes is personal to her and she’s made it her mission to be a positive force in the lives of others. I saw this passion and dedication from many others I met in San Antonio.
While I wasn’t able to attend any seminars, I had the chance to speak with hundreds of conference attendees who stopped by the booth to sample our Sweet Potato and Ginger Slaw. (Rumors quickly started swirling about the tasty slaw and our booth was mobbed a few times by hungry educators.)
I spoke with many who were well aware of the health benefits and low GI of the sweet potato, and ended up swapping a lot of recipe ideas (including plenty of twists on sweet potato fries.) A few of the people I talked with had diabetes, including one inspiring woman who’s had type 1 for 57 years. After chatting a little about my experience, she encouraged me to take care of myself and said she knew I’d do well.
I also had the chance to walk around the exhibition hall and talk with other exhibitors. It was fun to chat with food companies I’m familiar with, like Dreamfields Pasta, and discover new ones worth following, like Hail Merry. (Their Chocolate Macaroons are to die for!) I also had the chance to speak with people from dLife and the folks behind the Joe Toucan Diabetes Project.
All in all, it was an exciting and uplifting three days in San Antonio. It’s pretty cool when your professional responsibilities and personal interests align, and I felt lucky to be on the on the job talking with others about good food and diabetes.