14.06.2024


For almost as many years as he’s been in the spotlight, Anthony Anderson has been living life with diabetes. The actor, producer and comedian most known for his roles in the TV crime dramas Law & Order and K-Ville and in the hit sitcom Black-ish, was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 23 years ago. But he acknowledges that it took some years for him to really start taking his diagnosis seriously. Eventually he mapped out a solid strategy for keeping his blood sugars balanced and now partners with Novo Nordisk and the Get Real About Diabetes Campaign to help others do the same.


“I don’t profess to be the best eater out there, but I know what’s good for me and what’s good for my body, and I know what’s good for my body with type 2 diabetes. It’s about making the right choices,” he explains. 


“I don’t profess to be the best eater out there, but I know what’s good for me and what’s good for my body, and I know what’s good for my body with type 2 diabetes. It’s about making the right choices.”


We recently sat down with Anderson to talk about everything from his daily routine to how he celebrates holidays and special occasions while managing type 2 diabetes. A personal ritual, balanced meals, constant movement and maintaining comfort are all parts of Anderson’s life—and we were able to get a glimpse of it all.



A Walk Through Anthony Anderson’s Day

The first thing Anderson does each morning may be surprising.


“My morning ritual now consists of me walking around barefoot in my backyard, grounding myself as soon as I wake up,” Anderson says.


Once he takes his stroll, Anderson uses other forms of movement to help start off his day.


“After I ground myself in the morning, I try to do a little 10- to 15-minute yoga on my own,” he explains. “I’m starting to get back into that, and I need to do it a little bit more than what I’m doing now. Yoga and stretching. 


“I’m 53 years old, my body doesn’t move the way it once was when I was 23 and 33,” Anderson continues. “Hell, even 43! So now it’s about lengthening my muscles and keeping them fluid, and that comes from stretching and doing yoga.”


Light movement is great for the body, and can have a positive impact on blood sugar levels. A 2022 study published in the journal Sports Medicine showed that even two minutes of walking after a meal can significantly lower blood sugar levels. Practicing yoga can also have a positive effect, as it activates anti-stress mechanisms in the body, which in turn improves insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, both of which help stabilize blood sugar levels, per a 2018 review in the journal of Endocrine and Metabolism.


“My morning ritual now consists of me walking around barefoot in my backyard, grounding myself as soon as I wake up.”


As for food, Anderson keeps it simple with a smaller breakfast by drinking water and eating fruit, which he finds to be a light and satisfying way to start his day. For lunch and dinner, he balances each dish with a salad, protein of choice and a grain for a well-rounded meal.


In a previous interview with EatingWell in 2021, Anderson noted a motto he swears by: “Things are all good in moderation.”


“You never want to deprive yourself because you’ll eventually go off the deep end and take it all in,” he explained further. “So, it’s OK to treat yourself from time to time.”


These days, Anderson continues to embrace the ideology of moderation over limitation.


“The doctors have always told me that ‘Everything is fine in moderation, Anthony,’ so that’s what I’ve been living by,” he says. 


Additionally, Anderson has also tapped into principles of mindful eating in recent years: “I used to eat until I couldn’t eat any more, and that was a problem. Now, I eat until I’m satisfied.”


Anderson acknowledges he has a sweet tooth and does store gummy bears and candy in his car for times when he needs to raise his blood sugar quickly. His usual snacking is more nutrient-dense, though.


“I have an abundance of fruit on my counter and in my refrigerator,” the actor says. “And I’m proud of myself because I also have a snack cabinet, but I opened up the snack cabinet the other day and thought, ‘Oh wow, these snacks have been in here for a while!’ So now when I get the urge, it’s an apple, a plum, a pear, a nectarine, strawberries, grapes. Now I’m really snacking with vegetables. I have a small thing of hummus and carrot sticks, so when I get hungry, instead of reaching for the chips and the popcorn, I’ll grab some carrot sticks and hummus or a piece of fruit. And water is key; I drink lots of water.”


Want to start making healthier snacking choices like Anderson? An easy tip would be to start displaying your nutritious options front and center. By moving your fruit bowl to a prominent spot in your kitchen or your nutrient-rich snacks to the eye-level shelf in your fridge, you’re more likely to grab for those healthy goodies. 



How Anderson Celebrates Special Occasions Deliciously

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


When cooking, Anderson tries to balance the comforting flavors he loves with healthy cooking tweaks for a more diabetes-friendly approach.


“Sometimes I use substitutes, like for dairy,” he says. “I’ll use vegan cheeses, and I may not use dairy at all in what I’m cooking.” Opting for dairy alternatives or even lower-fat dairy options in recipes can help cut down on the amount of saturated fat—a nutrient that folks with diabetes need to be aware of, in addition to sodium and carbohydrates.  


Other simple strategies to make a meal more diabetes-friendly can include using fresh or dried herbs and spices in place of some of the salt in a recipe, or adding in lower-carbohydrate vegetables to fill out traditionally carb-centric dishes, like pasta. 


In Anderson’s recipe for Sweet Potato Home Fries with Cranberry and Hazelnut Crumble, the flavors of the holidays are bursting in every bite. The natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes and cranberries is intensified as they cook and caramelize together in a skillet. The hazelnut crumble is both a delicious and nutritious touch as it adds heart-healthy fats to this dish. What’s more, this simple side is made with only six ingredients.


Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelesa Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Christine Keely


Get the Recipe: Anthony Anderson’s Sweet Potato Home Fries with Cranberry-Hazelnut Crumble


And his protein-packed Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese with Broccoli embraces the three food groups Anderson makes sure to have on his plate: a fresh green (in the form of broccoli), a lean protein (in this case, chicken breast) and a whole grain (from the whole-wheat pasta). With a quick 25-minute prep time, Anderson meshed cozy with ease in this seasonal main.


Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Christine Keely


Get the Recipe: Anthony Anderson’s One-Pot Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with Broccoli


These two recipes highlight complex carbohydrates and are sodium-conscious and low in saturated fat, meaning that they’re well-suited for a diabetes-appropriate eating pattern. Anderson realizes this may surprise people, due to common misconceptions regarding diabetes.


“People think, ‘Why don’t you stop eating sugar? Just stop eating sugar!’ but it’s a little bit more complicated than that,” he says. “That’s why I partnered with Novo Nordisk and the Get Real with Diabetes Campaign: to debunk myths and to give accurate information.”


Anderson’s experience of living a healthy life with type 2 diabetes makes him eager to encourage and support others. Here’s his advice to anyone who’s been recently diagnosed:


“Things can get better for you, and listen to what the doctor says. Keep your body in motion, and be conscious of the things that you’re putting in your body because there’s going to have to be a change. It’s not about getting rid of everything; just start cutting back on certain things. Be active, listen to what the doctor says and do what the doctor tells you to do. You can live a long, productive and healthy life with type 2 diabetes.”


“It’s not about getting rid of everything; just start cutting back on certain things.”


An active lifestyle and generally healthy eating pattern is important to help manage diabetes. At EatingWell, we fully agree with Anderson that moderation is key and that you don’t need to cut out all of the foods that you love when you’re diagnosed with diabetes.

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