Holding On to My Pets, as Alzheimer’s Takes My Memories. My husband, Tim, and a duo of Jack Russell terriers arrived in my life 13 years ago. Many of my best memories involve animals. Some days my memory was so bad that I wanted to wear a shirt that said, “Sorry, I just cannot remember your name.” My sister found an online advertisement for people concerned about memory loss. And then came the memory tests. I felt the energy in the room change, and soon I was learning of a likely diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s. The owner told me the dog’s name was Sadie. In the fog of my brain, all I could remember was that I once had a dog named Sadie, but I couldn’t remember when. I have wandering Max the cat, and a sweet soft cat named Obie whom I brought home from my office and now spend hours stroking and petting and listening to her purr. And I have Sadie and Beatrice and Oscar, the grandson of Osceola, the Jack Russell that arrived in my life with Tim.
Consuming too much added sugar is one of the worst things you can do to your body. It can have many negative effects on your health.
While sugar is naturally found in foods like fruits and vegetables, this type has little effect on your blood sugar, since fiber and other components slow its absorption.
Fruits and vegetables also contain lots of healthy vitamins and minerals.
The danger is from added sugars in processed foods.
The average American currently consumes around 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugar per day (6).
This is way more than the upper daily limit that experts recommend, which is 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (37 grams) for men (7).
This article lists 14 simple ways to stop eating so much sugar.
1. Cut Back on Sugar-Filled Drinks
Some popular drinks contain a heap of added sugar.
So-called “healthy” drinks, such as smoothies and fruit juices, can still contain eye-watering amounts of it.
For example, 15.2 ounces (450 ml) of 100% apple juice contains more than 12 teaspoons (49 grams) (9).
Your body does not recognize calories from drinks in the same way it does from food. Drinks don’t make you feel as full, so people who consume lots of calories from drinks do not eat less to compensate (10).
Here are some better, lower-sugar drink options:
- Water: It’s free and has zero calories
- Sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime: Homemade soda
- Water with mint and cucumber: Amazingly refreshing in warm weather
- Herbal or fruit teas: Drink them hot or cold with ice
- Tea and coffee: Stick to unsweetened tea or black or flat white coffee
Cutting back on sugary drinks can massively reduce your sugar intake and help you lose weight.
Summary: Avoiding sugary drinks, such as sodas, energy drinks and some fruit drinks, will drastically reduce your sugar intake and could help you lose weight.
2. Avoid Sugar-Loaded Desserts
Most desserts don’t provide much in the way of nutritional value, except maybe some calcium.
They are loaded with sugar, which causes blood sugar spikes and can leave you feeling tired, hungry and craving more sugar.
Grain and dairy-based desserts, such as cakes, pies, doughnuts and ice cream, account for over 18% of the intake of added sugar in the American diet (14).
If you really feel the need for something sweet, try these alternatives:
- Fresh fruit: Naturally sweet and full of fiber, vitamins and minerals
- Greek yogurt with cinnamon or fruit: Rich in calcium, protein and vitamin B12
- Baked fruit with cream: Try pears, apple or plums
- Dark chocolate: In general, the higher the cocoa content, the lower the sugar
- A handful of dates: They’re naturally sweet and extremely nutritious
Swapping sugar-heavy desserts for fresh or baked fruit can not only reduce your sugar intake, but it can also increase the fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet.
Summary: Desserts such as ice cream, cakes and cookies are loaded with sugar and provide little nutrition. Switch to fresh or baked fruit to reduce your sugar intake and increase your fiber, vitamin and mineral intake.
3. Avoid Sauces With Lots of Sugar
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce are commonplace in most kitchens. However, most people aren’t aware of their shocking sugar content.
A single tablespoon (15-gram) serving of ketchup may contain 1 teaspoon (4 grams) (15).
Although, some varieties have no added sugar. Always read the label to be sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option.
Here are some other options to flavor your food:
- Fresh or dried herbs and spices: Contain no sugar or calories and can have added health benefits.
- Fresh chili: Give your food a sugar-free kick.
- Yellow mustard: Tasty and contains virtually no sugar or calories.
- Vinegar: Sugar and calorie-free, with a zing similar to that of ketchup. Some balsamic vinegars and creams may contain sugar.
- Harissa paste: Can be bought or made and is a good replacement for sweet chili sauce.
- Pesto: Fresh and nutty, great on sandwiches or eggs.
- Mayonnaise: Although it’s sugar-free, it’s high in fat, so be cautious if you’re trying to lose weight.
As a healthy alternative to store-bought ketchup, try making your own with this easy recipe.
Summary: Common table sauces can contain a shocking amount of sugar. Always read the label to make sure you choose sugar-free options or use herbs and spices to flavor your food.
4. Eat Full-Fat Foods
Low-fat options of your favorite foods — peanut butter, yogurt, salad dressing — are everywhere.
If you’ve been told that fat is bad, it may feel natural to reach for these alternatives, rather than the full-fat versions, when you’re trying to lose weight.
However, the unsettling truth is that they usually contain more sugar and sometimes more calories than their full-fat counterparts.
A 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt contains 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of sugar and 96 calories.
Another example is an 8-ounce (237-ml) coffee made with whole milk and no added sugar, which contains half a teaspoon (2 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and 18 calories (18).
In contrast, the same amount of a low-fat mocha drink contains 6.5 teaspoons (26 grams) of added sugar and 160 calories (19).
When you’re trying to cut your sugar intake, it’s often better to choose the full-fat version instead.
Summary: Low-fat foods often contain more sugar and calories than full-fat versions. It is often better to choose full-fat versions when you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake.
5. Eat Whole Foods
Whole foods have not been processed or refined. They are also free of additives and other artificial substances.
At the other end are ultra-processed foods. These are prepared foods that contain salt, sugar and fats, but also substances not usually used in home cooking.
These substances can be artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers or other additives. Examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, desserts, cereals, pizzas and pies.
Ultra-processed foods differ from standard processed foods, which usually only have minimal ingredients added, all of which you might find in a standard kitchen.
Examples of standard processed foods are simple bread and cheese (22).
90% of the added sugars in the average American’s diet come from ultra-processed foods, whereas only 8.7% come from foods prepared from scratch at home using whole foods (22).
And it isn’t just junk food that contains high amounts of it.
Seemingly healthy options like canned pasta sauce can also contain alarming amounts. One serving (128 grams) can contain nearly 3 teaspoons (11 grams) (23).
Try to cook from scratch when possible so you can avoid added sugars. You don’t have to cook elaborate meals. Simple tricks like marinating meat and fish in herbs, spices and olive oil will give you delicious results.
Summary: Whole foods are free of added sugar and other additives commonly found in processed foods. Eating more whole foods and cooking from scratch will reduce your sugar intake.
6. Check for Sugar in Canned Foods
Canned foods can be a useful and cheap addition to your diet, but they can also contain a lot of added sugar.
Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars. However, they’re not an issue since they do not affect your blood sugar in the same way that added sugar does.
Avoid canned foods that are packed in syrup or have sugar in the ingredients list. Fruit is sweet enough,…