I have been a gum chewer for as long as I can remember. Playing softball growing up it was common to have a big piece of Bubblicious (not sugar-free) every game and practice. As I got older, thankfully not getting any cavities as a result, I switched to sugar-free gum to keep my teeth healthy. I did not realize that the artificial sweeteners were just as harmful to my body. A few facts about artificial sweeteners in general: 1) they cause disruption of the gut microbiome which leads to inflammation in the body and digestive issues, 2) calorie dysregulation happens when you eat artificially sweetened foods that confuse your body’s ability to correlate the sweetness of a food and how many calories it contains potentially causing overeating, 3) Artificial sweeteners are a lot sweeter than table sugar and dull your taste buds to natural sugars like the ones in fruit and make you crave sweeter and sweeter foods *Side note- it was amazing how sweet an apple tasted after eliminating sugar from my diet. 4) when you consume artificial sweeteners your body releases the hormone insulin which can cause spikes in blood sugar and cravings, over time some people may develop insulin resistance and diabetes. Learning this information I was so careful to read food labels looking for hidden sugar and artificial sweeteners and eliminate those processed foods from my diet, except the GUM. You would think that I would’ve done the same with my beloved Trident gum but in fact it never occurred to me. I thought well I’m not eating it so it can’t hurt right? Last week, I had gum on my shopping list, determined this time to find a “healthy” gum to get the last bit of junk out of my diet. After scouring the grocery store and online markets I could not find one that I felt fit the bill of being “healthy”.
I used gum as a crutch, chewing after meals to fend off the craving for sweets, chewing between meals when I didn’t have food available and I was hungry, chewing to prevent eating out of boredom, chewing while I worked out. I realized I had some issues to resolve around my eating habits. I kicked the gum habit cold turkey after I chewed the last piece of my Costco bulk pack. There are times, especially after lunch, that I wish I had my piece of gum but I have found ways to divert my energy to prevent these cravings. After meals, I have tried brushing my teeth and eating slower so my body has time to realize it is full and I don’t need that gum to satisfy a hunger for more food. Between meals I make sure I always have water to stay hydrated, dehydration can be confused with hunger, and having snacks if I know my next meal may be 5 or more hours away. Chewing gum to prevent eating out of boredom is a constant mental battle. Just being mindful that this is a habit I have, has helped me create a plan to divert my attention. Making a list of alternative activities is a good way to prevent falling into this rut. Exercise, reading, working on my blog, painting etc. are a few of the ways I stay busy.
Kicking the sugar and artificial sweetener habit is tricky because if you eat processed or packaged foods it is likely in there in some form or another.
Acesulfame Potassium, ACE-K, Aspartame, Agave, Barley Malt. Beet Sugar, Brown Rice Syrup, Brown Sugar, Buttered Syrup, Cane Juice Crystals. Cane Sugar, Caramel, Carob Syrup, Corn Syrup Solids, Date Sugar, Dehydrated Cane Juice, Dextran, Dextrose, Diastase, Equal, Erythritol, Ethyl Maltol, Fructose, Fruit Juice and Fruit Juice Concentrate, Glucose, Glucose Solids, Glycerol, Golden Sugar, Grape Sugar, High Fructose Corn syrup. Honey, Invert Sugar, Isomalt, Lactose, Malitol, Malt Syrup, Maltodextrin. Maltose, Mannitol, Molasses, Muscovado, Nutrasweet, Raw Sugar. Refiner’s Syrup, Saccharin Sorbitol, Sorghum Syrup, Splenda, Sucanat, Sucralose, Sucrose, Sunnett, SweetNLow Sweet One, Turbinado Sugar, Xylitol.
Now, I’m not saying I will never chew gum again. However, I am taking steps to realize that when considering my diet or a clients diet I need to look at the whole picture and see where things might be sneaking in and getting over looked. Also, and more importantly what habits might need to be revamped around food, eating and mindset.
I would love to hear from you. Send me a message or comment below what habits you are working on changing or need help changing when it comes to food and nutrition.