The expectations on gum to perform have really gotten out of hand.
In my opinion, it all started back in 1985 with commercials like the one below for the Doublemint Twins that were selling sexual energy….err, I mean Doublemint gum.
Really? Did any of you ever have the experience of meeting two super gorgeous, super gregarious twin and having an amazing moment of chemistry when you popped this gum in your mouth? Yeah, me either.
Things haven’t gotten any better. Today when I was buying gas, I saw a gum on the counter that I’d never seen before from Extra. It was Key Lime Gum, part of their Dessert Delights lime. Don’t like key lime? No problem, there’s an apple pie option, an orange creme option and don’t forget mint chip. Something for everybody, sugar-free of course.
While some many think of gum as a healthier alternative to actually consuming the real food you desire, I think the exact opposite. To me, chewing gum to get a dessert fix would be like going to a strip club expecting to find love. It’s going to leave you terribly unsatisfied and still wanting the real thing. Between the promise of whisking you away to a refreshing oasis, to preventing your headaches, to offering you vitality, it’s just too much for one 1/2″ of gum to do.
The other issue I have with gum is that it perpetuates the expectation that we should constantly be having complex taste experiences in our mouth at all times. As it is our culture is so biased toward flavor and sweet, we come to expect those flavors in our meals, beverages, toothpastes, breath mints and of course gum. The Trident “layers” gum is an example of that: 3 layers of flavor, all of this overtly or subtly sweet. We just don’t need it. What is it doing to our brains to know we can get a quick rush of flavor like that whenever we want? Won’t it keep us wanting for more (and possibly the really thing, like that piece of apple pie).
Maybe I’m just biased because I haven’t chewed gum since 2005. Yep, I’m “gum abstinent”. It had to happen. I was chewing gum like a fiend, hoping it would quell the craving for what I really wanted, which was an endless supply of donuts and ice cream. I kept hoping for the promise of satisfaction, but got farther and farther from it. I was up to a pack a day of sugarless gum. I chewed it pretty much non-stop and never ONCE did it stop me from eating or tasting the foods I really wanted when they were available to me. If anything, it just primed me to expect flavor and a mouthful of bliss on a constant basis.
What helped me kick the habit? Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It’s a form of energy therapy that involves using affirmation statements and tapping on various accupressure points. For me, it was amazing, but I was also really ready to change.
So maybe I’m challenging you to look at why you chew gum, especially if you are a chronic chewer. Gum chewers don’t actually consume less calories than non chewers, and some of us experienced digestive issues and jaw discomfort from the hours and hours of chew, chew, chew. What about you? Is gum a security item for you? Do you feel like you can’t go into a meeting, a long car ride, or just go through the day without your little fix? Does it perpetuate your expectation for flavor experiences during the day, especially those that involve sweet?
I think it’s time to bring a bit of this spotlight to this tiny treat. It may be playing a bigger role in your carb cravings, food addictions, and unhealthy habits that you’ve given credit to.
Don’t underestimate the power of the gum. They don’t make all those flavors and spend all that money on marketing for nothing!