An article in the Washington Post talks about the idea of chewing gum as a distraction to other eating. "Studies so far suggest that chewing gum may help reduce cravings, particularly for sweet snacks, and spur people to cut their daily intake by about 50 calories. The combined effects of gum-chewing on weight management -- the reduced calorie intake, increased calorie burning and distraction from potentially fattening foods....suggests that small changes, such as consuming 100 fewer calories per day, can curb weight gain among overweight and obese people and that such changes are easy for most people to sustain. In light of such a "small changes" approach, maybe popping a stick of gum in your mouth now and then is a good idea. Especially if it takes the place of a Snickers bar."
I don't know when sugar-free gum, at 5 calories rather than 10 for sugar gum, became the norm, but I've looked everywhere and the only gum I've found that doesn't have aspartame or Xylitol is Glee, available at Sprouts. I agree with the author of this related article--she doesn't care for artificial sweeteners and wants to know why those of us preferring traditional gum are in the minority.