When it comes to figuring out diabetes, many folks in the African-American community aren’t quite sure what they’re dealing with, so we want to set the facts straight. Diabetes isn’t “just a touch of sugar” to be written off as a minor health problem, but it’s also not the kiss of death. A recent article from The Grio outlined some of the most common myths about diabetes and dieting, and then included some useful facts.

Here’s the deal:

Myth 1: If you eat too much sugar, you’ll develop diabetes.
Fact: Diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Eating sugar, fat and calories may cause you to become overweight, and this can up your risk of diabetes. But eating sugary treats isn’t the primary cause for developing the disease.

Myth 2: Your diabetes isn’t serious if you aren’t on meds to treat the condition.
Fact: Not everyone who has diabetes must take medications, because their bodies may still be producing enough insulin. Losing weight, eating healthy and exercising regularly can actually help insulin—a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood—work more effectively and stop the disease from advancing. Diabetes also changes through time, and medicine may be needed later, even if you don’t need it now. That means keep a close eye on your condition no matter what.

Myth 3: Insulin cures diabetes.
Fact: There is no cure for diabetes. Insulin helps keep blood glucose levels from rising, which helps manage the disease. Think of it like this: Making positive lifestyle changes and taking your medicine are just steps to ensure you live a healthy life with diabetes.

Myth 4: Diabetes means a lifetime of boring foods. No carbs, starches or desserts.
Fact: While eating too much sugar probably isn’t a good idea, you can still indulge occasionally. And carbs and starches are part of a healthy diet—even for people with diabetes. The real key is to control your portions and plan out meals to ensure you follow an overall balanced diet, even when tossing in treats you like to eat.

Myth 5: If you want to lose weight and avoid diabetes, just skip meals.
Fact: Never do this! Studies show that people who skip breakfast and eat fewer meals throughout the day are likely to weigh more than people who eat breakfast and four or five small meals a day. And if you already take diabetes medication, then you are putting yourself at risk of low blood sugar and a range of negative health effects if you skip meals.

During the last decade, black America has seen a devastating rise in diabetes cases. Nearly 4.9 million or 18.7 percent of all African Americans older than 20 have the disease. What’s more, African Americans have become twice as likely than whites to have diabetes. In addition, most new cases among black people are type 2 diabetes (the preventable kind).

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