Here's what the actor, producer and comedian does to manage his diabetes, all while living life to the fullest.
Anthony Anderson on a designed background
Credit: Courtsey of Novo Nordisk

Anthony Anderson is a talented actor, producer and comedian who has graced our TV screens for years, playing key characters in films such as The Departed and Transformers, and in the hit shows Law & Order and Black-ish. Anderson has had a successful career in Hollywood for more than 25 years now. For 20 of those years he's also been managing life with diabetes, with no signs of slowing down. EatingWell recently chatted with Anderson about staying healthy despite a busy schedule and his partnership with NovoNordisk on their Get Real About Diabetes campaign.

Anderson knows firsthand the devastating effects that can occur when diabetes goes unchecked. Sadly, he saw his father pass away from complications years ago. When the actor himself was first diagnosed with diabetes, after experiencing some telltale symptoms like excessive thirst, he knew he needed to take it seriously. While Anderson acknowledges that it took some years for him to get really real about his diagnosis, he now has a solid strategy for keeping his blood sugars balanced and a healthy approach to eating that doesn't focus on restricting any one food group. (We love to hear that!)

To keep his blood sugars—and energy levels—stable during the day, Anderson favors plant-based foods and has experimented with veganism, which research shows can have a positive effect on diabetes outcomes. But, as he says, "Things are all good in moderation ... and I love a good rib-eye steak from time to time, with all the accouterments. You never want to deprive yourself because you'll eventually go off the deep end and take it all in. So, it's OK to treat yourself from time to time."

We couldn't agree more! Research backs this approach: restrictive eating isn't sustainable. You're much better off allowing yourself to enjoy all foods in moderation, chronic disease or not.

When Anderson feels like his sugars are spiking, a walk on the treadmill is his go-to strategy for using up that extra glucose. "Everyone is different, but that's what works for me," says Anderson. But any type of activity can help lower high blood sugars. "Just walk up and down your stairs in your apartment complex or in your home, if you have them, or just walk around the block. Or even up the block! Walk from corner to corner and come home."

And when it comes to special occasions like the holidays, there are a few things that are nonnegotiable: "Sweet potato pie, dirty rice and mac and cheese. Those are the three staples I have to prepare. And my homemade cornbread stuffing." Anderson does his best to maintain the practice of moderation even at the holidays. A small serving of each is enough to satisfy his craving and remind him, "He's still got it," even when it comes to cooking up delicious items.

The holidays can prove to be a challenge for people with diabetes. With all the delicious foods, it's not always realistic to keep your blood sugars balanced. But it's OK! What matters more is what you do most days. Getting real about your health and working to keep your blood sugars balanced—most days—means treating yourself from time to time.

Lastly, the narrative Anderson most wants to change regarding diabetes: "That it's a death sentence. That now life is over as you know it. That's not the case. I'm living a full healthy life as a type 2 diabetic for 20-plus years now, and that's only because I go to my doctor and get regular checkups. I do what my doctor asks me to do. And because of that, there have been no complications and I'm living a healthy lifestyle, doing what I want to do." Anderson adds that a diabetes diagnosis, "Is a new beginning. That's what I like to tell people".

Anderson encourages people to visit the Get Real About Diabetes campaign website to learn the tools you need to live a full and happy life despite the disease.