I have a gum addiction. I’ve been a voracious gum chewer since I was a teen and it’s something I’ve been trying to combat for years, with minimal success. Like a moth to a flame, I just can’t seem to stay away!!! I’m pleased to say that I’ve had some success lately with the tips I’m about to share. But first, you might ask, what is a gum addiction? And why does it matter?
A gum addiction is a compulsive need to chew gum; a physical and emotional need for the flavor and action that gum provides. (I just made this definition up, I’m not actually trying to make this a clinical diagnosis, although heck — maybe it is!)
I’m convinced that my gum addiction stems from two places:
- Fear of bad breath stemming from terrible memories of a math teacher with coffee breath and a lab partner in college physics who had halitosis…
- Nervous anxiety that gives me energy that needs to go somewhere… Hence, chewing!
This “oral fixation” (my gum addiction) makes me want to CHEW. I don’t want to eat all day, and so I automatically reach for stick after stick of gum!
Now, gum wouldn’t be so bad, but the sugar-free stuff that I’ve been chewing for years (Extra Spearmint is my fave) is full of chemicals. Honestly, I don’t know if they’re toxic, but they’re certainly not natural and my instincts tell me that the following ingredients aren’t doing my body any good… Especially when I chew up to 5 or 6 pieces each day! Ingredients in Extra sugarless gum:
Sorbitol, Gum Base, Glycerol, Mannitol, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Less than 2% of: Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Aspartame, Acesulfame K, Soy Lecithin, BHT (to Maintain Freshness), Color (Blue 1 Lake).
Ugh! And considering the fact that oral tissues are HIGHLY ABSORBENT, the fact that I’m bathing my tongue, teeth, and mouth with these ingredients (and that they’re going straight into my bloodstream) is totally UNCOOL.
A few months ago, I’d had it with my gum addiction and sought natural alternatives that would keep my mouth happy, my breath fresh, and my anxiety tamed. Here’s what I came up with:
peppermint (or spearmint) water
I started using essential oils last year. I fell in love with the fact that the brand I use offers EOs that are PURE enough that they’re safe to be ingested. One of my favorite oils is PEPPERMINT. I find it cost-effective (and healthy) to keep my breath fresh AND my body hydrated when I make a big batch of peppermint water to sip on throughout the day.
Here’s what I do: in the morning, I fill a large (approximately 64 oz) glass pitcher with water. I add 2 drops of pure, therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil* to the water, stir vigorously, and pour some into my glass or stainless steel water bottle. I sip on it ’til it’s gone, then refill my water bottle from the pitcher throughout the day. Since oil and water don’t mix, you’ll need to stir the pitcher of peppermint water, and/or gently shake your water bottle, periodically.
This is also GREAT with spearmint essential oil. It really helps to squelch my gum cravings to have a fresh-smelling breath and a clean-feeling mouth, and the bonus is that I’m sure to drink enough water when I make a big pitcher of flavored water at the beginning of the day!
*PLEASE NOTE that not all essential oils can be ingested. You must follow manufacturers directions when researching which oils you can take internally!
lavender caps + deep breathing
Note that I mentioned “nervous anxiety” above? I’ll admit, I’m a nervous person. My mind is always EVERYWHERE, I always have a million projects, and I tend to get fidgety and restless when I don’t have something to do. I don’t like NOT being busy. I truly believe that’s the main culprit behind my gum addiction, and it’s something I’ve been working to overcome.
If you’ve read my book, you’ll know that I have a long history dealing with anxiety and depression, and I’ve ultimately dealt with it naturally; however, I did use prescription medications for a brief period of time. What a mess. The side effects were beyond bad. Sure, I felt calmer, but my gastrointestinal discomfort was insane! Some people get constipation from their anxiety meds; not me… I got terrible diarrhea that literally caused me to have to jump from a car and squat on the side of a road at one point. No lie.
Then, when I switched to the generic brand of the medication I was using, I discovered — after noting brain fog, fatigue, and lethargy — that one of the fillers in the ingredients contained GLUTEN. As a person who’s very sensitive to gluten, this was disheartening. I felt tricked! I was angry… And so I threw out the pills, never to take them again.
Over the years I become much more interested in meditation and calming my anxiety naturally with meditation and deep breathing. This helps to a point, but sometimes I (personally) just want to TAKE SOMETHING. So when I learned that lavender essential oil is calming and can even be taken internally (with certain brands), I jumped on it.
During periods of extreme stress, I add 2 drops of pure, therapeutic grade lavender EO to an empty gelatin capsule and pop it like a pill. If things are really rough for me, I’ll also diffuse a blend of clary sage EO (4 drops) and lavender EO (4 drops) and inhale the aroma while working, doing yoga, etc.
Works like a charm, and you know what? When I feel calmer, my gum addiction is MUCH LESS INTENSE. My gum cravings are lessened (or even gone), and I just feel… Chill. Ahhhhh…….
I was contacted by Simply Gum to review their all-natural gums. My family and I did a little “natural gum taste-test” using Glee, Spry, and Simply Gum and honestly — (this is without being paid to say it!) — Simply Gum was the winner due to their minimal ingredient list and long-lasting softness. My son was able to blow bubbles with it after just a few chews!
I also love the flavors that Simply Gum offers (ginger, fennel, etc.), and their packaging is clean and lovely.
The only drawback (for me) is that Simply Gum is sweetened with raw cane sugar… I’d rather it be totally unsweetened or sweetened with xylitol (which is said to be beneficial for oral health). I contacted the company about this, and they stated: “we use cane sugar because it’s a pure form of sugar and a natural way to sweeten up the gum. That being said, we are always exploring alternatives and listening to feedback. I’d be glad to share your input with the team, if you’d like.” Responsive and polite customer service — another plus for Simply Gum.
To sum it up: If you’re a gum addict like me, I encourage you to clean up your act and improve your chewing choices.
Either get to the root of the problem and take steps to calm your anxiety (if that’s an issue for you), or freshen up NATURALLY with peppermint water or all-natural gums. There are better options than the gums you see in your supermarket’s checkout line!