Looking to kick the habit? Turning to food instead? Today we're zoning in on ways to manage your weight while quitting smoking. Food cravings and weight gain are the biggest reasons ex-smokers relapse so we're arming you in advance with ways to manage your weight while quitting smoking. So why does this happen?
Why can you put on weight while quitting smoking?
Your body cleanses and purges impurities after you quit smoking, and your senses of smell and taste return. You may crave more foods because they're more appealing, and your mouth and hands are not toying with the cigarette anymore. These are physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that eventually disappear, usually within 2 months after you start a quit-smoking programme. Meanwhile, you can fight the food cravings, lose weight and kick the habit for the last time.
10 Ways to Manage Your Weight While Quitting Smoking
Follow these 10 useful steps to help you manage your weight while quitting smoking.
Step 1: Eat loads of Fibre
Eat plenty of fibre. Fibre makes your body feel fuller quicker during mealtimes, and keeps you feeling full longer. Replace refined sugars with fruit, and white bread with whole wheat choices. Add extra vegetables to your meals, replacing potatoes and starchy vegetables with green leafy vegetables. Healthier foods complement your healthier, tobacco-free lifestyle.
Step 2: Get Enough Sleep
Sleep at least eight hours each night. Not getting enough sleep may make you crave sugary foods after you stop smoking and drain your energy during the day, meaning you burn fewer calories. Use natural methods to fall asleep and stay asleep. Avoid getting up in the middle of the night for a snack.
Step 3: Don't Skip Meals
Eat several small meals a day, rather than three big meals. Don't skip meals during the day. Skipping meals may cause you to overeat at your next meal or fill up on calorie-laden side dishes rather than the leaner parts of the meal. Your body compensates for the skipped meal earlier in the day.
Step 4: Snack
Another way to manage your weight while quitting smoking is snacking. Snack on finger foods between meals, and avoid foods high in carbohydrates. Sugar causes mood swings and quick changes to your energy level. Your energy level peaks after eating a high-carbohydrate meal, but dips shortly afterward, leaving you hungry before your next mealtime. Try carrot and celery sticks with hummus.
Step 5: Avoid Emotional Eating
Avoid eating when you're angry or emotional. Find healthy coping strategies, such as going for a walk or attending a yoga class. Try a meditation or mindfulness class in your local community or online, or attend a support group for smokers so you can find creative ways of dealing with emotions that fit your personality or lifestyle.
Step 6: Exercise
Participate in regular exercise or play a sport. Your body produces endorphins when you exercise, releasing the feel-good hormone into your bloodstream. These hormones also inhibit food cravings and burn extra calories throughout the day, making it easier to compensate for a mistake when you slip into a food craving. Exercise also fits into the healthy regimen you're adopting by quitting smoking.
Step 7: Don't Deprive Yourself
Instead of giving into a chocolate craving; promise yourself that you will eat an orange with one square of sugar free chocolate or a lollipop. This way, you don't feel deprived, and you eventually make better long-term food choices. Plus sugar free lollipops look after the oral fixation of a cigarette. Check out the offerings at your local independent health store.
Step 8: Load Up on Fruit
Fresh fruit expedites your freedom from cravings. Concentrate on your hunger and eat enough entire fruits, roughly 4, to fill you up and satisfy you. Grazing on entire, fresh fruits such as low glycemic apples and pears till noon helps shut the gate before the longings get out of the barn, gain momentum, and sneak attack later in the day.
Step 9: Be Prepared
If at home, work, or on the go, think ahead and keep healthy nibbles with you at all times - cut-up veggies, fruit, and raw, unsalted nuts and seeds. That way when your cravings start to creep up, you can beat them back down with healthy food instead of refined junk from the vending machine.
Step 10: Go Easy on Yourself
Give yourself a hug, you deserve it!
Please note, this blog is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice.
It’s always best to consult your doctor before taking any new supplements, treatments or remedies if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or on medication.
Checked and updated: 13 August 2021