I have a weird nervous tic—chewing my lip. To get me to stop that, my dentist suggested I chew gum instead. He even recommended a specific brand — Trident — and told me to make sure to get gum sweetened with xylitol because it’s better for you than other artificial sweeteners.
I kind of wish I hadn’t taken his advice.
In the years since he told me that — and it’s been at least five years, because I was still at the newspaper then — I’ve gone through countless packs of gum.
And I still chew my lip.
This chewing gum costs from $1 to $1.25 a pack when I buy them in a three-pack. I don’t like the sandpapery feeling in my mouth after I’ve been at it all day. And it makes my jaw hurt. But I was nevertheless up to two packs a day by the time I decided to quit.
I made the decision after I discovered that at that dosage, the gastric effects of xylitol are almost as remarkable as those of the infamous sugar-free gummy bears.
That was probably TMI. Sorry.
At first I thought maybe I was addicted, but then I realized that I don’t have any desire to chew gum when I’m out. Writer’s group meetings, church, even five-day conferences all go by with no desire for chewing. But as soon as I’m back at my desk, I gotta chew.
So it’s a habit. Not an addiction.
Yesterday the last wrapper from the last piece of gum in the last pack went in the dustbin. Now I need to figure out how to do my work without my jaws working overtime. Maybe if I can get the hang of it, I can even stop the lip-chewing also.
Have you ever successfully broken a bad habit? How did you do it?