The curiously not strong enough mint
January 31, 2011 11:34 PM   Subscribe

Altoids are a lot healthier than cigarettes, this I know. But what's healthier than Altoids?

I recently quit smoking after smoking 1-2 packs/week for seven years. I am five weeks in as of today. For the most part cravings haven't been bad unless I drink and hang out with my friends who smoke. All that aside, I've taken to Altoids as my replacement for the oral fixation. I'm well aware that Altoids are much healthier for me than cigarettes, but it dawned on me that I'm eating nearly a tin of Altoids daily, which is pushing 250 calories that I don't need! (I'm trying to lose weight, too, which is a doubly tough task when quitting smoking, I know). I've considered the sugar-free Altoids, but I'm concerned my stomach might not like that much sorbitol.

So to all Mefites who have oral fixations in one form or another, what candy or substance can I have all day, every day that can get me through the next few months that might be lower or no calorie?

The last special snowflake detail: chewing gum is right out. I have a cracked tooth that is really bothered with gum.
posted by Mister Fabulous to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would recommend fruit, vegetables, or nuts.
posted by germdisco at 11:37 PM on January 31, 2011

Try chewing on licorice root.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:40 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I know people who like these. It looks like they also come in cinnamon.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 11:43 PM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Baby carrots?
posted by bluedaisy at 11:59 PM on January 31, 2011

Sunflower seeds in the shell. You can get the low sodium kind and sprinkle on different flavorings for variety if you want.
posted by Mizu at 12:11 AM on February 1, 2011

I suggest raw almonds, they take forever to chew and get through and healthy too!. Also Licorice root is a really bad suggestion as it is a mild laxative, anything mild taken in large amounts becomes not so will sprint through you like crap through a goose...exactly like crap through a goose.
posted by Felex at 12:26 AM on February 1, 2011

Some folks I know have gone in for (wooden) toothpicks in a big way. You can get different flavored ones, including a pretty strong mint.

Maybe not the best thing for your teeth, and for all I know the stuff they flavor 'em with is some form of toxic sludge, but pretty darned low-calorie.

(Or, on preview, what i_am_a_fiesta said.)
posted by brennen at 12:40 AM on February 1, 2011

posted by MuffinMan at 1:04 AM on February 1, 2011

Bottle of water. Sip when you'd drag.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:36 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Like Felex suggested, I always keep some raw almonds around for this purpose. Almonds are great: filling, really good for you, not teeth-destroying, etc. They're pretty energy-dense, though, so not exactly low-calorie (although they're filling enough that you'll probably eat much less of them than you would of anything with the same amount of energy in sugar instead of protein and monounsaturated fat).

Failing that, carrots or celery.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:44 AM on February 1, 2011

I still like the sunflower seeds idea. I found that if I ate them one by one, it kept my mouth busy, staved off hunger because of the protein in the seeds, and tasted damn good. You do have to find a place to put the shell, though, because otherwise it gets nasty quick.
posted by Night_owl at 1:58 AM on February 1, 2011

Chewing/sucking on cloves. This is also likely to deter from wanting to eat when you aren't hungry, like mints might. Likewise, pure peppermint oil might work, unless you need an actual item in your mouth.

You could also mix sugar-free Altoids with regular ones to cut down the negatives of both.

If you follow any of the suggestions in here for nuts you're going to end up consuming more than the 250 calories you get from Altoids.
posted by Polychrome at 2:23 AM on February 1, 2011

I eat ~20 Extra mints per day. They use sorbitol. It's not a problem at that level.

They are small mints though, it's probably about half a tin of altoids.

A half a packet of Fisherman's Friends per day would also be OK.

That might be worth a try.
posted by sien at 2:42 AM on February 1, 2011

I have the same problem (ex-smoker, oral fixation), and drinking something does the trick for me. If I'm stationary I usually have a mug of tea, and I have pretty much every kind of tea that exists (herbal and otherwise) to keep from getting bored. If I'm on the go its just a water bottle. Unfortunately this has me peeing every 30 minutes, but I just tell myself that I'm flushing out my system or something...
posted by tempythethird at 3:03 AM on February 1, 2011

Dip celery or carrot sticks into a small dish or shotglass of hot sauce/chili sauce/horseradish sauce.
posted by K.P. at 3:36 AM on February 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Occupies both hands and attention.
posted by stuck on an island at 3:38 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bubbles. You know, the stuff for kids. Take a bottle out for your "smoke break." Practice blowing the biggest bubbles you can. It takes the place of hand-to-mouth plus oral fixation. It's meditative and lowers your blood pressure. Try it at least once.

My other non-food suggestion is a deck of cards. Learn to shuffle really well.
posted by amanda at 4:51 AM on February 1, 2011

Eating chopped raw cauliflower helped me when I first quit smoking. It is both very crunchy and strongly-flavored. Easier for having throughout the day, however, are almonds. These may be as caloric as Altoids, however. (They're good for you, though.)
posted by Francolin at 5:17 AM on February 1, 2011

Nuts are not a great choice if you are trying to eat something all day and cut down calories.
posted by smackfu at 5:30 AM on February 1, 2011

Best answer: I second the idea of drinking tea. If you are going to be drinking a lot of it, there are loads of herbal teas that are caffeine free. I drink a lot of herbal tea in the evening after dinner, as a way to reduce my snacking.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 5:37 AM on February 1, 2011

Tea and flavored toothpicks.

I'm three weeks in myself and I'm on tea and an e-cig with 0mg nicotine liquid. But toothpicks would probably be better and cheaper.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:52 AM on February 1, 2011

The tea-tree toothpicks fiesta mentioned is my go to in the car or on the go.

I also dig pickle sunflower seeds when others go for smoke breaks. I go with them but stuff these in my mouth. Still feels good to take a break and socialize. (I MUCH prefer Spitz to David brands. . if you can find them in your area) They are ashing, I'm spitting. .

When I'm at my desk I have stacks of poker chips I can now shuffle as a repetitive tick, keep my non-mouse hand busy. It used to bring cigarettes to my lips. . .

Mini dark chocolates help me as a reward. . mild stimulant and brain buzz. . .
posted by patrad at 6:27 AM on February 1, 2011

Ditto i_am_a_fiesta with tea tree oil toothpicks (maybe that's what elsietheeel is referring too as well). My dentist loves me for using them (so long as they are used gently) and says the tea tree oil is antibacterial. They are super minty, more so than an Altoid, and have a nice pull-the-stick-out-of-the-pack vibe like cigs.

Beware replacing the old habit with sugary suckers like Altoids or with snacking. No sense in adopting a new potentially destructive habit.
posted by quarterframer at 6:31 AM on February 1, 2011

Sugar Free Jolly Ranchers saved my ass when I quit smoking. Yes, they have sorbitol. but my stomach adjusted after the first two days. Besides, running to the bathroom is a great distraction when you get a craving!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:47 AM on February 1, 2011

Best answer: I still like the sunflower seeds idea.

Yaaaah... watch out for this. I'm on merely day 9 of The Quit, and a few days ago I bought the salted variety of sunflower seeds. I chewed so many that the salt made my mouth swell up, and I ended up with one hell of a stomach ache. (No I didn't eat the shells, thanks.)

My office has an ice machine. It spits out that awesome slushy ice. Now I'm crunching on slushy ice. It's working well, so far.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:30 AM on February 1, 2011

My dad used ice cubes when he quit. No calories and thankfully for our sanity, he wasn't making crunching sounds all day.
posted by advicepig at 7:44 AM on February 1, 2011

I tend to chew on pens when I can't smoke. Probably not the greatest for my teeth, but it helps.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:32 AM on February 1, 2011

Kale chips!
posted by barnone at 10:02 AM on February 1, 2011

I mentioned chewing ice to my dentist once and he not-so-politely told me it was one of the worse things you can do to your teeth. Something about the cold facilitating micro-fractures. . who knows, probably better than smoking but something I now avoid. .
posted by patrad at 10:03 AM on February 1, 2011

listerine breath strips! they don't last long, but they kill cravings pretty well.
posted by woodvine at 10:08 AM on February 1, 2011

Pumpkin seeds are high in iron and protein. Plus, they're kind of hard to chew, so it makes for a prolonged experience.

I know this isn't oral, but you might like using an aromatherapy inhaler. They're small enough to fit in your pocket and I find them very calming. You can easily buy the tubes on ebay and make your own. Or you can buy them already prepared. They even have ones specifically for stress, appetite control, etc.
posted by Surinam Toad at 10:59 AM on February 1, 2011

Try the Licorice or Ginger Altoids: they're vile and should put you off wanting to eat anything for a while. (Certainly works for me: I have had a tin of each for over a year.)

Also, drink a lot of water. I have read that many people eat when they are actually thirsty, so perhaps supressing your thirst this way will help keep stuff out of your mouth. And water is always good, especially in the winter.

BTW, good luck! I hear quitting sucks, so good on you for doing it.
posted by wenestvedt at 2:26 PM on February 1, 2011

i love the water suggestion, but if you find it, um, boring, you could always add some flavour to it - such as lemon, lime, star anise, mint, etc.

with water, you're actually doing something SUPER good for your body, and it will also help with the weight loss. and with your heart. and your kidneys.

get a straw in your glass if you need something interesting for your mouth, maybe?
posted by andreapandrea at 8:47 PM on February 1, 2011

I'm lazy, so I didn't bother to see if this has already been covered, but I just wanted to let you know that the regular Altoids are made with sugar, but the small Altoids are made with sorbitol and sucralose and therefore have many fewer calories. I actually know this because sugar alcohols give my friend gastrointestinal distress, but if that works for you, the smalls have a similar taste, but many fewer calories.
posted by at 9:36 PM on February 3, 2011

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