It’s been over 20 years since Anthony Anderson was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
“I had all the classic symptoms, excessive thirst, constantly going to the bathroom, etc. At one point I drank an absurd amount of water over a couple hours and I knew there was something going on,” Anderson recalls.
At the time, Anderson admits that he didn’t take the diagnosis as serious as he should have.
“I took the medicine my health care provider first prescribed, but I didn’t commit to eating healthy and being active like I needed to. I kept telling myself that ‘Everything is good in moderation,’ which was just an excuse to keep eating what I wanted,” Anderson shares.
Today, the “Law and Order” actor has a different attitude. For Anderson, diabetes awareness is important (not just because he has it), but because both of his parents were diagnosed with it. He also lost his father due to complications from the disease.
“That was really tough, especially knowing that if my dad had taken better care of himself, he might still be here,” the actor adds. “My dad just didn’t know what happens when you don’t take control of your diabetes. That was a real wake-up call for me. I didn’t want to just be a memory for my family, I wanted to be there. So, I vowed right then and there that things would be different, that I would get serious about managing my diabetes.”
Keeping true to this, the 52-year-old has partnered with Novo Nordisk to bring awareness and tools about the disease to those in need.
“We have a great campaign GetRealAboutDiabetes.com where people can go to the website and learn how to live with diabetes and not die from it,” he explains.
How Anderson manages his diabetes
To get his diabetes under control, Anderson began making lifestyle changes, which includes things like eating better and exercising.
“…I changed a lot. For me, I kind of needed a fresh start, to leave all my old ways behind. I had just moved to New York for a new gig and I decided, ‘Ok, this is it. It’s time for the new me.’” Anderson shares.
“I started with my diet. Al Roker is a good friend of mine and he recommended his nutritionist to me. She helped me cut out unnecessary carbs and gave me an action plan to eat healthier and cleaner. To be active, I started biking. Almost everywhere I went, I either walked or biked. I loved Manhattan, so biking around it was something I could enjoy while also being active,” Anderson adds.
Making these lifestyle changes and keeping up with his medications made a huge difference for the actor.
“I lost a bunch of weight. So much that I had to get a whole new wardrobe. I felt so much better, and the eating healthy and being active got easier over time. It all just became routine,” Anderson shares. “And my blood sugar level was under control, probably for the first time since I was diagnosed. For the first time, I really felt like, ‘I can do this.’ It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be to change my lifestyle how I did.”
The link between heart disease and type 2 diabetes
Anderson also hopes to bring awareness to the link between heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
“It’s some scary stuff! As if diabetes isn’t tough enough, you also have to worry about getting heart disease, which can lead to death way before you’re ready to go. I, for one, am not ready to go yet. I don’t want to be just a memory or a picture on the wall,” Anderson says. “I prioritize seeing my diabetes care team regularly, so they can keep an eye on my heart, and talk to them about what I can do.”
Advice for others
Although Anderson says “there’s no secret to managing diabetes”, he does offer some advice to others.
“One thing I would say is to not to wait. Get real now. I’ve learned that you’re either managing your diabetes, or it’s hurting you. That’s just how diabetes works. Find your motivation and run with it. Whether it’s being there for your family, the things you still want to accomplish in life, the places you want to go—focus on all those things and let them drive you,” Anderson says.”Changing what food you eat, consistently being active, and taking an injectable medicine may seem a bit daunting at first, but just give it a shot, pun intended. It all gets so much easier over time, as it all turns to habit. Believe me, if I can do it, you can, too.”
If you have any of the following diabetes symptoms, see your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested:
Urinate (pee) a lot, often at night
Are very thirsty
Lose weight without trying
Are very hungry
Have blurry vision
Have numb or tingling hands or feet
Feel very tired
Have very dry skin
Have sores that heal slowly
Have more infections than usual