Why I Quit Chewing Gum Cold Turkey + 4 Natural Breath Fresheners


Once upon a time, I chewed a pack of GUM every day.

{Yes, every day!!}

How, you ask?

The habit probably began when I was dabbling in Weight Watchers and calorie counting. You know, a stick of gum can really kill a craving…

Or, so they say.

For me, the craving only continued to grow (now, I understand why!). When I went into sales, the habit tipped to a full pack a day.

I officially became a chain chewer.

Never mind that I was spending ungodly amounts of money on gum each week, and grinding my jaw into the ground…

There was nothing like being on the open road 4 – 6 hours a day and being able to CHEW. Chew away the stress. Chew away the time.

It also supposedly helped me to be alert (source), and according to Wrigley gum:

“…20 minutes after eating or drinking can help protect your teeth… In addition… sugar-free gum can provide a way to help manage your calories…”

Well, there may or may not be a third party agenda when it comes to their research… just sayin’.

Obviously, this whole gum chewing habit of mine was completely oblivious to me as a problem. Somehow, my whole quest for eating chemical-free, nutrient-dense whole foods hadn’t yet connected the dots with gum.

The Moment of Truth

And then, it happened.

I was checking out of a grocery store one day, when I noticed a small label below the row of my favorite pack of Orbit Sweet Mint gum.

It read, ‘This is not a gluten-free food.’

Now, you know how I feel about gluten.What the heck!?? Gum has…*gasp*…gluten in it?

I grabbed the pack of gum and hurriedly scanned the ingredients, awkwardly holding up the grocery check-out line personnel.

And there it was…

Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate: According to Celiac.com, it “… can [contain] a gluten-containing grain or by-product in the manufacturing process, or as an ingredient.”

Knowing that I had just opened up a can of worms forever, I continued reading the FOURTEEN ingredients on the back…

Source: Foodbabe.com

Source: Foodbabe.com

Sorbitol: As the #1 ingredient, this sugar alcohol can wreak havoc on the eyes, nerves and kidneys of those with diabetes. It also can build up in the body because it takes a while for the body to rid of, and depletes the body of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and amino acids (source). Lovely, people.

Gum Base: This is a non-nutritive, non-digestible base consisting of a whole lot of waxes, fillers, emulsifiers, and other junk ingredients unknown to the body (source). Hmm.

Glycerol: A naturally occurring chemical. (Does that sound natural to you!?) It attracts water to the gut, softening stools and relieving constipation. (A laxative!?) Side effects include headaches, dizziness, bloating, nausea, vomiting, thirst, and diarrhea (source).

Natural and artificial flavors: Both are made in a lab by a ‘trained professional,’ who uses “natural” chemicals to make natural flavorings and “synthetic” chemicals to make artificial flavorings (source). Translation? Sounds suspect.

Aspartame-Acesulfame: A low calorie sweetener containing ionically bound aspartame and acesulfame, and 30 times sweeter than sugar (source). Not only does this drive you to an increased appetite and cravings; it causes weight gain in adults and kids (source). Aspartame accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported by the FDA, and is linked to brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other serious issues (source)…

Aspartame: See above.

Mannitol: This is a sugar alcohol manufactured from cornstarch, and we all know that corn is 88% genetically modified. Side effects include bloating and diarrhea, diabetes, and even weight gain (source).

Acesulfame K: As a low calorie sweetener, this is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, and known to increase insulin release and thyroid tumors (Carlton & Carlton, 2013). :(

Soy Lecithin: An emulsifier, which helps keep the gum from separating. As a derivative of soy, which is 93% genetically modified in the U.S. and a common allergen, this is a highly toxic, inflammatory ingredient. It is made from soy oil, which is made through a chemical process using hexane (source). ICK.

Xylitol – Another sugar alcohol. See mannitol. 

BHT (to maintain freshness): Known as butylated hydroxytoluene, this is manufactured from petroleum and acts as a preservative. This is banned in many European countries and and linked to cancer (Carlton & Carlton, 2013).

Colors (Beta-carotene, Blue 1 lake): Artificial colors come from coal tar, and are banned in numerous European countries because they are linked to behavioral disturbances and neurotoxic activity. (Especially in children!!!)

Phenylalanine: Aspartame contains the amino acid phenylalanine, so people with the rare genetic disorder phenylketonuria cannot metabolize this amino acid.


I mean, no words, right!?

I horridly put the pack of gum down, and thought about how many of these toxic pieces I had chewed and accumulated in my body over the past few years.

I was disgusted, completely disgusted.

In a just few minutes’ time, this innocent chewing gum that I had grown to love became a toxic agent that did not DESERVE to be in my life anymore.

So, I quit.

I no longer chew gum. My jaw and I feel a lot better because of it, too.

What does one do, then, for fresh breath without gum? Here’s what I do…

4 Natural Breath Fresheners

1) Drink (lemon or lime) water. Try it! A few gulps washes away the bad taste, especially if you add lovely antioxidants like lemon or lime. These are fantastic natural cleaning agents, by the way!

2) Chew on ginger!! This is my favorite! Ginger soothes the mucosal lining of the esophagus and stomach, aids in digestion, and delivers anti-inflammatory benefits to the whole body. {Plus, it freshens breath.} Typically, I cut up a small slice and chew on it until it’s soft. You can swallow or spit it out depending on your preference.

3) Chew on peppermint (or other herbs)! Buy an herbal plant or two at the farmers market and keep it in your kitchen! Peppermint, of course, is known for fresh breath, but you could chew on any herb – basil, parsley, cilantro, etc. Break off a leaf or two when in need – it will taste good and boost your health, too.

4) Brush and floss your teeth. Avoid the fluoride versions, though. We like the Tom’s brand. 


Trust me, there are better ways to handle stress or cravings than gum. (Can you name a few!?) :) Hopefully, you’ve already gotten the memo, but if you haven’t, I hope this inspires you to seek healthier alternatives!!



Carlton, Jayson and Mira Carlton. Rich Food, Poor Food. Malibu, CA: Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2013.



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37 responses on “Why I Quit Chewing Gum Cold Turkey + 4 Natural Breath Fresheners

  1. Probably a dumb question, but in doing the research for this article, did you look at other brands of gum (besides Wrigley’s)? Do they ALL contain that disgusting chemical mix? Great article, by the way!



      Hopefully, this helps!

  2. There you go…….the sneaky hidden secrets of gum!! I gave it up cold turkey once I found about “the smoking teeth” and mercury fillings. Don’t even miss it.

  3. Most gums do contain additives that are very unhealthy…the only ones that are alright are some of the xylitol gums, which are hard and lose flavor quickly…just not worth it! Love the ginger tip! Gonna try it…

  4. i’ve been told some types also contain petroleum based rubbers… like car tires are made from…. ( never really researched it myself, so do your own checking)

    you can look up natural chewing gum recipes using a chicle base (natural latex- don’t try if you have a latex allergy of course). recipes can also contain a beeswax base. i wish i could find a source for sweetgum sap since i don’t have those trees anywhere near where i live.

  5. Thats why I make my own cinnamon and peppermint tooth picks to chew on…Just dont swallow the wood.

  6. We’d bought Tom’s recently thinking it was good, so I was shocked the other day to see that is DOES have fluoride??? It was listed right on the front and I hadn’t even noticed. :(

    • Hi there! Tom’s DOES have a fluoride version, and we’ve made that mistake as well. Make sure to look for the fluoride-free version!

  7. I used natural toothpaste on my kids exclusively when we wanted to go chemical free then got a nasty wake up call when my daughter developed MAJOR dental problems. The dentist said it was likely the toothpaste as her diet did not include high sugar foods and kids with poor diets but good toothpaste have better teeth. So as much as I appreciate your research on gum and will be much more discriminating it is important for people not to jump too fast without checking out the facts and talking to their health care providers. My daughter’s dental bill was $2500 and almost cost her her smile.

    • Hi Cheryl, I appreciate your thoughts! Although this post is predominantly about chewing gum, I’m assuming you read my post about fluoride and tooth health. Yes, everyone should research what is right for themselves. The research is definitely there against consuming added fluoride because of its toxic nature, but applying it topically may have its place for those with dental issues. I’m glad your daughter’s teeth are doing well now!

    • Hi Cheryl,

      I am sorry your daughter has been having dental issues. My daughter also had dental issues, which I mention below. You may want to check out Ramiel Nagel’s “Cure Tooth Decay,” which shows how tooth health depends on diet, and what the right diet looks like. It is based on research and empirical evidence of societies with diets different than our western diet. Even the healthiest western diet causes health problems because of the lack of proper food preparation methods.

      My daughter developed a cavity between her two front teeth which was stopped and reversed once I adapted some changes based on the information in the book and the Weston Price Foundation. Weston Price was the dentist who first discovered and researched this issue as he saw indigenous people with perfect teeth despite their lack of tooth brushing (and of course, fluoride). Weston Price and Ramiel Nagel both support a diet with meat, but as we are vegetarian due to ethical reasons, we’ve adapted the diet to not include meat but my daughter’s tooth health has still improved and the cavity stopped growing and the dentin layer of her teeth has grown over it.

      There is also a very good cookbook based on the principles, Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions.” I have not managed to incorporate everything into my food prep, but have adopted several methods which have improved our diet.

      Fluoride is a strong neurotoxin that has been used by Nazis and others to suppress the will and vigor of prisoners. You may want to research the effects of fluoride before deciding to continue to use it in toothpaste. Even if not swallowed, it is absorbed in the mouth. There is also research showing that it actually does NOT help prevent cavities.

      Wishing you the best for you and your family!

  8. with this said, what about breath mints and candy? Most everything you eat these days is loaded with all kinds of things you don’t even know what they are. I really think most things are bad your you to eat.

  9. My husband was also a gum addict, but quit when we became aware of chemicals in our food (and read the ingredients!). He now loves the toothpicks flavored with tea tree oil.

    • I also chew a pack a day! Ah. I knew this about gum, but I have so much anxiety, and I don’t know what to replace chewing with. Thanks Ashley for the toothpick tip. I’ll definitely try to find those.

  10. Pingback: Real Food and Healthy Living Round-Up - July 2013 - Don't Mess with Mama·

  11. Grandpa used to give us bits of honeycomb to chew on. Once the honey flavour was gone, spit it out. SO GOOD.

  12. I did my first Whole30 last September and was addicted to gum, like you, all day long, every single day. I never looked back. In addition to feeling great, the money I saved is incredible!

    Great blog, btw! Followed a link on FB..

    • Thank you so much, Cassie! Recovering gum addicts… unite! Haha, glad that you’re on the other side of it, too. Yes – the money savings is fantastic!

  13. I used Tom’s brand toothpaste till I looked at the ingredients…not using anymore. I recently bought Earthpaste and like it very much.

  14. Pretty sure everything in this world is made up of chemicals…..even your 100% all natural toothpaste is loaded with chemicals. Salt, xylitol, and the essential oils in earthpaste are all chemicals. water? Another chemical. You don’t want to mess around with dihydrogen monoxide, it’ll kill you, right? Anything made of matter is a chemical. I like hearing people say “we cut then chemicals from our diet”. I reply, “you must be hungry”

  15. Pingback: Real Food and Healthy Living Round-Up - July 2013 - Don't Mess with Mama·

  16. THANK YOU!!! I chew about 100 pieces of trident a day. It substituted a full pack of cigs a day habit years ago..but has only gotten worse. Sometimes I swallow!! YUCK. So I have been suffereing terribly from insomnia…and my friend suggested that maybe it is because I am ingesting so many chemicals (by the way I am a very obsessive crazy only eat whole organic non processed food person..yep) into my body. So I googled and here you are…waaaaaaa…bye bye trident…I’ll miss you

  17. I also chewed a lot of Orbit gum but was wondering if the ingredients were really good for me. I happened across your site and am looking for alternatives for chewing gum that doesn’t have all these chemicals. It was an eye-opener to go look at the all the artificial things in this gum. Thanks.

  18. Are you sure toms is a good recommendation? I have been using it for a while and was thinking about how sweet it is. And low and behold it has xylitol. Is there no escape?!

  19. Great article, Julia. We know all about your pain. Train heals the pain! Train Gum is an all-natural chewing that is handmade and uses only 5 easy to pronounce ingredients. The gum and the packaging it comes in is completely biodegradable, and we use only plant based materials in our small batch manufacturing. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. We’d love to send you a sample!

    Chew Chew,

  20. Just read your article– lots to chew on (as it were). Thanks for all the food for thought! If you’re still in the market for natural alternatives to conventional chewing gum, might you consider GLEE GUM? Glee is aspartame-free, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified, and made without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. Let us know and we’ll send a sample your way!
    Glee Guy,
    Humble Mascot of Glee Gum

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