It’s Friday! YES! I know that I am really looking forward to sleeping in and taking a rest day tomorrow (and so are my shoulders- ouch!). What about you- any fun weekend plans?
In case you missed it, I shared the details regarding my preview of Frederick Restaurant Week (which starts on Monday) on yesterday’s post. That post also includes a giveaway for a $50 gift card to Downtown Frederick! Just be sure to enter by Monday, because I’ll be choosing the winner at 8pm.
And remember, if you dine in Downtown Frederick, you could be enjoying these beauties at Ayse…
Alright, back to today. It’s time I came clean about something. I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about this on the blog before (or publicly at all), but I have had a “strange” addiction ever since I can remember. I am pretty sure that it dates back to childhood, but I honestly can’t remember when it started. Before you start thinking that I drink my own urine or lick my cat I’ll tell you that it’s nothing that extreme. Without further ado, here it is:
I am addicted to gum.
I know. It sounds really silly. And probably not like a big deal at all, but let me tell you- until I started thinking about how addicted I am, I didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about.
I chew gum all day, every day. And this is my drug of choice:
I keep packs of it everywhere: in my purse, on my desk, in my car, in my gym bag… I need to have a pack right near me at all times.
I remember always trying to convince my mom to buy me a pack or Hubba Bubba or Bubble Yum whenever we went grocery shopping when I was a kid. I also remember having a mouth full of cavities, and my dentist telling me to chew sugar-free gum instead. So, I switched. Over the years, I’ve switched brands, from anything to Trident to Orbit to Stride, and have exclusively been hooked on Extra for about 3 years. I like any kind of minty-flavor, but the “light blue” (Peppermint) is the best. Every time Extra comes out with a new “Dessert Delights” flavor, I have to try it. Even though several of them taste great, they don’t hold a candle to good ol’ Peppermint.
I buy it in 3-packs from the grocery store. I often have to make a special trip to the “regular” grocery store because The Common Market and Whole Foods don’t sell Extra brand gum. They only sell the “organic” gum that loses flavor in 5 seconds.
I didn’t really start thinking about my gum addiction until last Sunday, during the Hypnosis class. Since so much of the discussion was centered around being controlled by food, I started thinking a lot about foods (or actions) that control me. And gum definitely controls me. I chew it for many reasons: it tastes good, it keeps my mouth occupied and it freshens my breath. I almost always pop a stick of gum in my mouth when I’m done eating a meal and it keeps me from continuing to eat after I’m satisfied. More than anything, it just seems to be calming for me. I don’t even really “chew” gum- and most people don’t ever realize that I’ve got a piece in my mouth. Just having it there is comforting. And I feel uneasy without it.
You want to know something else? As much as a “label scanner” as I am, I never really bothered to look at exactly what is in a stick of gum.
Here’s the ironic thing: I am so particular about eating “real,” wholesome, organic foods and haven’t used a single packet of Splenda, Equal or Nutrasweet since I quit cold turkey back in 2009. I have been claiming to “never eat artificial sweeteners,” when it turns out: I’ve been ingesting mega doses of Aspartame – the worst offender of them all – the whole time!
And the other ingredients? I don’t even know what they are! And why is “Contains Phenylalanine” in bold print? According to the website Sweet Poison:
Phenylalanine is a hidden danger to anyone consuming aspartame. Most consumers don’t know that too much Phenylalanine is a neurotoxin and excites the neurons in the brain to the point of cellular death.
ADD/ADHD, emotional and behavioral disorders can all be triggered by too much Phenylalanine in the daily diet. If you are one in ten thousand people who are PKU or carry the PKU gene, Phenylalanine can cause irreversible brain damage and death, especially when used in high quantities or during pregnancy. Phenylalanine is 50% of aspartame, and to the degree humans consume diet products, Phenylalanine levels are reaching a dangerous peak.
It is important to learn about the ingredients within your foods, especially isolated amino acids like Phenylalanine. They are in combination within nature for a reason – they don’t belong in isolated form for the healthy human diet.
With all of these ingredients that I can’t pronounce, I would hardly call Extra gum a “health food,” which it (in my opinion) claims to be. In fact, they have a whole portion of their website linked to fitness! I completely get the idea behind controlling sugar cravings by chewing gum instead- but I don’t agree that it’s a healthy solution.
Now let me be frank here, there are plenty of things out there that we eat that are bad for us. There are far worse and more harmful things to be addicted to. Chewing a stick of gum every now and then probably isn’t going to harm you at all. But, when you go through a pack every one to two days (like I have been doing for years), you are definitely absorbing a high level of chemical crap into your body. I am certainly not going to judge anyone that likes chewing gum, because I totally get it. If you can chew gum without it having some kind of control over you, I think that’s just fine. I just know that for me, it’s about time to stop this madness and take control back.
So, I quit.
I haven’t had a single stick of gum since Sunday. And for me, that’s a huge deal. I honestly can’t remember the last time that I went for even a day without chewing gum – or really, without chewing at least 10 sticks of gum throughout the day! It hasn’t really been easy, but it also hasn’t been that hard. The times that I miss it the most are right after a meal or after my morning coffee and first thing in the morning when I head to the gym. I bought a pack of mints (made with sugar) so that I could at least freshen my breath after eating, but I think I’ve only had about 4 total over the last 4 days.
It actually feels really good to not constantly have to make sure that I have gum nearby. It also feels good to feel like I have control over gum now. I’m not saying that I’ll never chew another piece of Extra Gum again, but for now, I think I need to stay away from it altogether.
I guess this is how a smoker feels when she quits.
So, there it is. My strange addiction. Maybe you can relate- or if not, maybe this post gave you a few laughs at how ridiculous it all sounds.
Do you have any addictions/vices? Are you a gum chewer?