My awesome friend Karen from L.A. was so kind to share with us a strategy that has been helpful for her. Let us know what your thoughts are and if you have an interesting strategy that is working for you. Thanks Karen!
"I have found that chewing gum has been helpful for my weight loss plan this time around. In addition to using the Weight Watcher's point system and moving more and more toward a vegan and nutrarian food plan, I am also chewing gum.
I enjoy chewing gum, especially right after a meal when I want something sweet, when I am working on the computer and when I am driving. I live in LA so I spend a lot of time driving, for work and in my personal life (chauffeuring my kids around.) I used to snack on low point foods at those times, like rice crackers, sea weed and fruit. But I have found that chewing gum is just as satisfying and perhaps more so because there is no guilt (i.e. eating when I am not hungry) associated with it.
I spoke to my dentist, and she said that chewing sugarless gum with Xylitol is actually good for your teeth and helps to keep them clean and white. I have had to experiment a bit to find gums that work for me. I started with good ole' Trident in my favorite minty flavors (wintergreen and cinnamon.) What I found was that there were two unexpected side effects that were not at all pleasant. One is that I chewed so much that my jaw got sore. Really sore. And two, the minty flavors did something to the inside of my mouth and tongue that I find difficult to explain. It made the inside of my mouth sort of raw and affected my ability to taste foods. So I talked to a friend who is an occupational therapist and she suggested other possible techniques (i.e. chew on a straw, chew on a plastic bottle cap, chew on a piece of plastic tubing, find a softer gum). So through trial and error, I have discovered softer gums that work better for me (chewing on plastic didn't do the trick!).
Trident has a gum called Layers in Strawberry/Citrus and Apple/Pineapple. They start out very soft and have a lot of flavor for quite a long time. When the piece of gum starts to get at all tough to chew, I get rid of it and start over with new, softer pieces (I like to chew two pieces at a time). The other thing is that I take breaks from chewing. I could chew all day if it didn't mess up my jaw. But I have a history of TMJ (I realize this may be too much information), and so I have to be careful to take breaks from chewing.
Orbit also has some nice flavors of gum like Sweet Mint. It is not quite as soft as Trident Layers, but I use it for variety sometimes and am mindful not to chew it for too long. Sometimes I embarrass my teenage kids by "chomping on my gum," (you know, the thing your mother told you not to do when you were a kid.) I just figure it is a small price to pay for my personal health and fitness. Overall, they have been very supportive and proud of my successes and I also notice them asking for pieces of gum when we are in the car!