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In Battle Against Diabetes, Local Restaurants Sign Up for #GuiltFreeSB Initiative

William Sansum Diabetes Center program aims to make Santa Barbara ‘diabetes friendly’ through joint campaign with restaurants, breweries and wineries

Los Arroyos owner Tony Arroyo, right, with regional chef Juan Vaca, has signed up his restaurants to participate in the William Sansum Diabetes Center’s #GuiltFreeSB campaign against diabetes. “In the Mexican food, people don’t think we have that kind of option,” Arroyos says. “... People (with diabetes) usually have to cook at home.” Click to view larger
Los Arroyos owner Tony Arroyo, right, with regional chef Juan Vaca, has signed up his restaurants to participate in the William Sansum Diabetes Center’s #GuiltFreeSB campaign against diabetes. “In the Mexican food, people don’t think we have that kind of option,” Arroyos says. “... People (with diabetes) usually have to cook at home.” (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)

Santa Barbara could become the world’s most diabetes-friendly travel destination, at least that’s the aim of a new program called #GuiltFreeSB.

Backed by a grant from the Mosher Foundation, the initiative is spearheaded by the William Sansum Diabetes Center, which announced #GuiltFreeSB at its Latino Leaders Summit on Diabetes last week.

The William Sansum Diabetes Center is recruiting local restaurants, breweries and wineries to provide more low-sugar, carbohydrate-light menus and other resources. (William Sansum Diabetes Center photo)
The William Sansum Diabetes Center is recruiting local restaurants, breweries and wineries to provide more low-sugar, carbohydrate-light menus and other resources. (William Sansum Diabetes Center photo)

The center has begun recruiting local restaurants, breweries and wineries to its website, allowing visitors easy access to low-sugar, carbohydrate-light menus and other resources.

Santa Barbara sees 550,000 visitors with diabetes annually, according to Dr. David Kerr, the center’s director of research and innovation.

Kerr came to the figure considering that 1 in 10 Americans is living with diabetes and 5.5 million travelers find themselves in the coastal city.

He said 40,000 more locals live with diabetes.

“There’s a lot of planning that has to go in if you have diabetes,” Kerr said. “Knowing what’s in your meals, being able to enjoy the local food but knowing what’s in it, if you lose insulin where to go, knowing what to do if walking around and sugar might go low.

“We want people to enjoy Santa Barbara and feel safe visiting here.”

#GuiltFreeSB is especially targeting the Latino community, which Kerr said suffers more from diabetes.

“To really make Santa Barbara the most friendly diabetes destination, particularly targeting the Latino-type cuisine, you have to be careful about the amount of carbohydrates and also the portion size,” he said. “Carbs are main drivers for weight gain,” along with sugary drinks or snacks.

Diabetes runs in Tony Arroyos’ family. He signed up his restaurant, Los Arroyos, knowing the menu already accounts for dietary restrictions and features meals with salads, charbroiled chicken, fresh fish, homemade corn tortillas, roasted chilies and dressing on the side.

“In the Mexican food, people don’t think we have that kind of option,” Arroyos said. “Believe it or not, in our restaurant we have so many healthy dishes. Whole beans are protein. Chicken is organic.

Salmon tacos are among the healthy dishes available at Los Arroyos’ restaurants in Santa Barbara, Montecito and Camarillo. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)
Salmon tacos are among the healthy dishes available at Los Arroyos’ restaurants in Santa Barbara, Montecito and Camarillo. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)

“People (with diabetes) usually have to cook at home. I’m glad they focus on the Latino community. In Mexico, we are the No. 1 country that has the most obese people.”

Arroyos said customers with diabetes shouldn’t have to sacrifice flavor, and others agree. Paradise Café and Armada Wine & Beer Merchant have signed up, along with CVS Pharmacy on the Mesa, which will be the diabetes “pharmacy of choice” for insulin, etc.

The #GuiltFreeSB website also offers walking tours so visitors can burn off carbs.

“What we’re doing is actually of value for anyone wanting to enjoy a trip,” Kerr said. “The more we can do to make their visit safe and enjoyable, the better.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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