Gumming Up the Works

Mentos Gum with Xylitol, photo by ColleenFolks trying to quit smoking and to lose weight have something in common (besides an unhealthy relationship with food, but that's a story for another time): gum.

Gum with nicotine added is promoted as a stop-smoking aid to the legions of addicts who, studies show, are unlikely to succeed in their efforts to quit without assistance. Ex-smokers chew the gum, and they get that nicotine buzz without the nasty tar in their lungs. They gradually step down the dosage as their brains become less reliant on nicotine, but the gum is always available in case they ever feel overwhelmed with a craving.

Gum can help those of us with pounds to drop to stick to our plans, too! Many people (myself included) tend to eat not out of hunger but boredom. Our mouths (and, naturally then, our brains) are craving not nourishment but entertainment. We keep putting hand to mouth to keep our minds occupied with tasting and chewing, often during lounge sessions or tedious work activities. How many of you could find Cheetos crumbs in your keyboard right now?

Gum keeps your jaws and tastebuds occupied so you can avoid mindless snacking. If weight loss is your goal, you should go for sugarless gums. Sugarless gum has fewer calories than the regular kind, plus it won't rot your teeth. In fact, sugar-free gums can clean out the bad breath and germs from your mouth through stimulating saliva production when you chew it for about 20 minutes after a meal.

If you're interested in dental health as well as weight loss, buy gums sweetened with xylitol. This sugar alcohol is famed for its germ-killing properties. You can find it in several gum brands (just check the ingredients), including my frugal favorite, Trident.

Beware, though: Excessive consumption of sugar alcohols, such xylitol and other common gum sweeteners, can lead to some . . . unpleasant . . . bathroom visits. I've never encountered such a side effect in my years of heavy gum chewing, but it's worth noting if you're a frequent consumer of sugar-free candies. Also, gum chewing is not for you if you have dental work or are especially susceptible to heartburn.

Otherwise, though, gum's a safe, nearly calorie-free way to make your mouth happy. As a bonus, it's possible the energy you expend chewing your gum will exceed the few calories it contains! When used as part of an overall healthy eating plan, gum can reduce the number of calories you consume out of boredom, helping you lose weight and break a food addiction.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment