Fact: I used to have an addiction problem.
No, I was not addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, video games or any other typical vice that you can think of. I was addicted to chewing gum.
History of My Addiction
A lot of you are probably thinking, “I have the same problem!” or “I chew a lot of gum too!” but I’ve yet to meet someone who chews as much gum as I once did.
Some might argue that using the word “addiction” in this context is going a little too far; I beg to differ.
I used to NEED gum. I would chew so much gum that even when my jaw started to hurt, I kept chewing. I chewed in the morning, I chewed at night, I chewed when I was bored, stressed and nervous. I needed gum more than coffee; I was a chain chewer for about 7 whole years.
How it Started
Like most habits, chewing gum progressed slowly. I started to chew one or two pieces after a meal, then gradually began chewing more often. Before I knew it, a few pieces of gum turned into 10, 20 or 30 per day! I was popping piece after piece; my purse, car and desk were constantly FULL of gum wrappers.
I always carried at least 2 packs of gum with me at all times, and made it a point to stop and buy some if I was running low.
I often went through 1-2 packs per day, maybe more. I would chew a piece for 5 minutes, spit it out and chew another. No matter what I did, I could convince myself that chewing just one piece of gum was enough.
Why Did I Chew Gum?
Aside from the minty, fresh and clean feeling that chewing gum gave me, it also helped me focus and relieve stress. It calmed me down while sitting in traffic, studying for a test or before a big game.
I needed it to concentrate, to ease my nerves, to make me feel better, even though it actually used to make me feel worse!
After a while I didn’t even like the taste anymore. Sure I liked the initial burst of minty sweetness, but what I really craved was the chewing motion. Afer a while the chain chewing did not feel good anymore, it felt necessary.
Why I Quit
As far as vices go, there are clearly much worse things than chewing gum. I remember trying to brush off this horrible habit by comparing myself to someone addicted to smoking or drinking; now that’s a BAD addiction.
Although my habit was not as disastrous as a drug addiction, I never felt particularly good about chewing an insane amount of gum.
Every time I began to chomp away with my aching jaw and gurgling stomach, part of me would shake my head in disbelief and say “Really? This cannot be GOOD for me.”
I definitely believe that my jaw/facial pain (possible TMJ which I am treating with acupuncture) has to at least somewhat do with my gum chewing history.
Along with the jaw discomfort, I was also experiencing horrible stomach pains and bloating which was eventually diagnosed as IBS.
I do believe that I have IBS (even since I quit gum, some IBS symptoms are still present) but I am sure that chewing gum did not help the situation.
As if the jaw discomfort and digestive issues that chewing gum brought upon me weren’t enough to trigger me to quit, there was another huge reason that led me to my decision.
Sugar free gum is predominately made up of artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, Sorbitol and Saccharin. In other words, pure chemicals.
Although the topic of artificial sweeteners is controversial when it comes to health effects, there are several studies that have proven that ingesting these synthetic ingredients can lead to seizures, headaches, heart palpitations and even cancer.
Of course the jaw pain, digestive issues and the chemical makeup of gum were factors in me finally shaking this bad habit, but they were not the sole reasons.
Ultimately I quit chewing gum, because I was finally ready to quit.
I decided that I’m done being a slave to this gross, toxic and unattractive oral fixation. Chewing gum literally has no nourishment. Masticating purely to keep my mind off things has got to be the one of the most ridiculous habits that I have ever picked up.
How I Quit
At first I started off by carrying only a few pieces of gum with me, and not buying anymore when I ran out. I tried to only chew it after meals and when I really felt the urge.
Eventually, I stopped buying gum completely, and simply resisted the temptation although it was, and sometimes is still is there.
I’ve learned to deal with this sensation by drinking a glass of water, brushing my teeth or munching on some fruit. On rare instances, I will pop one breath mint, but try to only do that on rare occasions.
I always knew that chewing large amounts of gum was potentially harming my health. I tried to stop several times, but failed miserably because I did not have self-control. Deep down I still wanted to chew gum, (lots of it) and I did not want to stop.
Although I’ve been gum-free for only a little over a month, I am not turning back now (or ever).
Sorry friends, if you’re looking for some Orbit, Five or Doublemint to clear your breath or curb your cravings, you’re going to have to look somewhere else.
This girl has given up gum for good!
Do you do chew gum?
Have you ever had an addiction or bad habit? How did you get rid of it?