That pack of gum in your pocket may have been an impulse purchase designed to keep your breath fresh or even to forestall the urge to smoke. A foil wrapped stick of gum looks pretty innocent, we have to admit. A little vigorous mastication never hurt anybody, right? Well, it's not quite that simple.
Although you don't swallow it (we hope), habitual gum chewing can involve some of the same dependency issues as food addictions, especially if you're hooked on sugary gums as opposed to the sugar-free variety. We aren't talking about nicotine gum, here, just the garden variety gum you're likely to find at the checkout counter of most grocery stores.
It turns out that many activities can become compulsive and somewhat addictive, particularly if they're acting as surrogates for other addictions. If you chew gum when you really want a breakfast pastry (bad), the gum may end up being a better choice, but one that produces anxiety when you can't refresh your wad during the Monday morning meeting. There's also the reassuring feeling that comes from chewing on something -- anything. If all your pencils (and your nails) look liked they've been gnawed on, you know what we mean. If you're a gum chewer, choose a nice sugar free brand and adopt a sedate chewing tempo that won't cause jaw problems later.