Check Out America’s Most “Diabetes Friendly” City


With the help of a grant from the Mosher Foundation, William Sansum Diabetes Center (the Center) announces the launch of, “GuiltFreeSB,” with the goal to make Santa Barbara the most diabetes-friendly destination in the  world.

Each year, more than 550,000 visitors and residents with diabetes snack, drink and dine at Santa Barbara establishments. The city, known as the American Riviera, has also become a new destination for cruise ships with 15 stops scheduled for 2015. The goal of GuiltFreeSB is to increase awareness around improved diabetes management while minimizing health risks. Diabetes-friendly menu items can be found at and information is readily shared via social media, visitor centers and  kiosks.

“We want to help take the guesswork out of healthy eating,” said the Center’s Director of Research and Innovation Dr. David Kerr. “The old adage around food and travel is ‘when in Rome…,’ however, individuals with type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes need to make conscious decisions about what to eat even during special occasions. With our restaurant partners, we want to demonstrate a diabetes-friendly diet does not need to be a  sacrifice.”

Once a restaurant signs on as a partner, the Center’s registered dietitian, Sandy Andrews, works with the general manager or chef to identify and evaluate diabetes-friendly menu items. The items are then listed on the GuiltFreeSB website with calorie and carbohydrate counts as well as recommended  modifications.

Tony Arroyo, owner of the popular Los Arroyos Mexican restaurants in Montecito and downtown Santa Barbara, was the first restaurant owner to participate in the  program.

“Diabetes is prevalent in my family,” noted Arroyo. “I wanted to do something to shine a spotlight on the disease without making it feel intimidating. Our restaurants use fresh ingredients, so it wasn’t hard to identify delicious items that work well for a diabetes-friendly diet. It’s all about portion control, minimizing processed foods, and integrating healthy carbs with proteins and vegetables.” Los Arroyos GuiltFreeSB items include Mama’s Salad with beans and chicken or shrimp as well as the Ceveche Tostada on a plain corn tortilla (modified from the fried  tortilla).

Jim Mishler, the manager of iconic Paradise Cafe, noted the resource did not need to be limited to those with diabetes. “GuiltFreeSB menu items are great for anyone looking for balanced, healthy meal options, ” said Mishler. Paradise Cafe’s GuiltFreeSB items include the Grilled Chicken Salad and Grilled Fresh Fish Tacos (omit  rice).

Other early restaurant partners include Shoreline Beach Cafe, Armada Wine and Beer Merchant, Boochies, and Outer Aisle  Gourmet.

The Center has also partnered with local CVS pharmacies to offer visitors and residents a resource for diabetes related medical supplies. CVS Pharmacist Harvey Castillo has been appointed to respond to inquiries related to diabetes medication and prescriptions as part of  GuiltFreeSB.

“It makes sense that Santa Barbara would be first to embark on this kind of initiative,” stated Ken Oplinger, President & CEO Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region, which also manages Santa Barbara Visitors Centers. “People visit, live, and do business in Santa Barbara because of its temperate climate, unique geography and outdoor activities. You need healthy energy to enjoy all Santa Barbara has to offer. To eat well is to feel  well.”

The title is one the City of Santa Barbara more than willing to share. “We actually don’t expect Santa Barbara to hold the title as the most diabetes friendly destination for long,” noted Dr. Kerr. “In fact, we would like this model to be replicated across the country, as diabetes affects 30 million people  nationwide.”

For general information about travel and diabetes go to


Our singular daily focus is to improve the health and quality of life of men, women and children in Santa Barbara County – and millions around the world – who suffer from diabetes. We have been on the cutting edge of diabetes research, clinical care, and education since our founding in 1944 by Dr. William Sansum, the first U.S. physician to administer insulin in the treatment of  diabetes.

William Sansum Diabetes Center advances new technologies to develop tools to help people more effectively self manage their diabetes, and produces groundbreaking diabetes treatments, such as the development of an artificial pancreas that enables the automated glucose control to patients. Understanding that diet and lifestyle factors are key to the effective management and prevention of diabetes, the Center offers diabetes and nutrition education to the more than 40,000 Santa Barbara County residents with or at risk for the disease. The Center also provides direct clinical care to patients including pregnant mothers with gestational diabetes, helping them to deliver healthy  babies.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.