Here I sit, chomping away on my fourth piece of gum today, wondering how much is too much.
This is a new habit for me, part of my coping during dieting. I am chewing sugar free gum, but even that has five calories per stick. So I did some internet research and then some math. Chewing gum burns a measly 11 calories per hour. I am one of those people who only likes the gum as long as the flavor lasts, so some hours I will have many pieces. It is a bit disheartening to confirm that I am actually adding calories to my total count with my new mastication fixation.
Why am I acting like a cow with her cud? Several reasons: chewing gum keeps me from snacking; the action seems to have some stress reducing benefit as I work out my frustrations with my jaw; and in the evenings it keeps me awake in the hours before bedtime when I find myself nodding off. (Although I have come close to napping with the gum still in my mouth!) I wonder if part of my current desire for gum is actually a craving for a sweet taste? I don’t like that idea!
I have been experimenting with lots of brands and lots of flavors, searching for one that will hold the flavor long enough that I burn as many calories chewing as I ingest from the gum. No such luck so far. But I have found a couple favorites: sweet watermelon, berry smoothie, strawberry citrus, and green apple/golden pineapple. I obviously lean towards the strong fruity flavors. No boring peppermint here!
Somehow this new habit feels like a weakness to me. A gum crutch. I don’t know why and I don’t know if I care… just saying. I keep telling myself that I won’t buy another pack but then I do. I know as far as addictions go, this is pretty insignificant and probably harmless. It just seems like something I shouldn’t be doing. And if it feels like I shouldn’t, than maybe I really shouldn’t. If I hesitate to reach for that next stick, maybe I should be asking myself why. Why chew so much and why not?
I know people who happily keep a piece of gum going for hours. Maybe I would feel better about chewing if I wasn’t swapping out the sticks so often. And I know several people who chew gum while they exercise; I think it keeps their mouths moist. I don’t think I could keep my mouth closed while working out and I soooo hate hearing or seeing anyone’s gum. Right up there on my pet peeve/fingernails-on-a-chalkboard list. Maybe that is part of why I don’t like this constant chomp… that I have so often seen a woman chewing away and wondered if she knew how unattractive it made her look. Like Sarah Jessica Parker in the Oscar’s audience. Yep, she was.
So should I care? Should I cut back or quit all together? Does it matter? And what about you… gum chewer or gum eschewer?