If you’re thinking about quitting smoking, something might flash through your mind: “Am I going to gain weight?” Because quitting smoking has so many health benefits, you don’t want this worry to get in the way. However, this is a legitimate concern as you have a chance of gaining weight when you quit smoking. This article explains why and when you quit smoking we share what you can do to prevent weight gain so you can lead a happy and healthy life.
Why do you gain weight when you quit smoking?
There are several reasons why people gain weight after quitting smoking:
- Smoking speeds up your metabolism, which means you burn more calories faster.
- You may be more tempted to snack after quitting (for example, some ex-smokers miss having something in their mouth).
- Your craving for nicotine may be mistaken for hunger.
- Smoking can cause you to lose your appetite, so when you stop smoking, you’ll probably feel hungry more often.
- When you quit smoking, your sense of smell and taste improve, which may encourage you to eat unhealthy foods.
How to quit smoking without gaining weight?
Since your metabolism will slow down when you quit smoking, you will need to keep it up by exercising regularly. Experts recommend that adults aim to be physically active every day and get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.
Quitting smoking has many benefits, one of which is improved lung capacity and cardiovascular health. This means you can train more often and for longer as your fitness improves. So make sure you use all your extra energy to use it!
Eat a Healthy Diet
By eating healthy foods and snacks, you are less likely to gain weight than if you resort to processed and sugary foods. You should also avoid drinking too much alcohol, as it can contain a surprising amount of calories. Basically, you want to avoid another bad habit, so don’t let quitting spur you into drinking alcohol or making bad food choices. Try doing the following:
- Eat small meals to satisfy your hunger.
- Don’t buy food on an empty stomach.
- Eat healthy snacks like low fat yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
- Try to eat more slowly, as it may take your stomach time to realize that it is full.
- Eat regularly as this can help speed up your metabolism and keep your energy levels high.
- Enjoy a balanced diet.
- Stick to the recommended calorie intake (which is 2,000 calories per day for women and 2,500 calories per day for men).
Don’t Attack Food When You Think of Cigarettes
Some ex-smokers may find that after they quit smoking, they lack what they need to do with their hands and mouth. Food is something many people crave, but it can lead to unhealthy eating habits. However, there is a positive way around this. For example, if you miss smoking in your mouth, don’t reach for a lollipop or a sugary snack, but rather chew on a vegetable like a carrot that will keep you busy in a healthier way. You can also chew on a nicotine substitute to distract yourself.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water will help you stay hydrated and feel full. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day is recommended, as this helps replenish normal water loss.
Make smarter snack choices
When you get hungry between meals, try to make healthy choices and snack on fruits and vegetables instead of sugary or unhealthy foods (which can be very tempting). Good snacks include nuts, vegetables and fresh fruits. Fiber-rich foods keep you feeling full longer, so you don’t overeat.
Ask yourself if you are really hungry
When you quit smoking, you may experience hunger as a withdrawal symptom. This will pass over time (usually after a few weeks) and your eating habits will eventually return to normal, but it’s worth noting that your cravings can also be mistaken for hunger. Before returning to food, try to challenge the feeling to determine if it’s just food cravings that will pass. For example, you might think about when was the last time you ate, what you ate, and whether you did any physical activity.
If you don’t learn to deal with this “hunger” feeling, you run the risk of overeating, which will likely lead to weight gain.
7. Take your smoking cessation medication regularly
Smoking cessation medications can help you deal with nicotine cravings. Therefore, you should try to take it regularly so that you can focus on your goals. As mentioned above, you may confuse your craving for nicotine with real hunger. This means that by suppressing those cravings, you will have better judgment and understanding of what your body really needs.
Coping with food cravings and controlling your weight can be difficult at first, but over time it will get easier. Why not take a look at Lisa’s smoke-free journey as she struggles with weight gain for inspiration?
When does weight gain stop after quitting smoking?
Some studies show that people can gain weight as a result of quitting smoking for up to three years. However, your personal lifestyle will have a big impact on weight gain or loss. For example, if you stop smoking but increase the amount of exercise you do in addition to a healthy diet, you can achieve weight control.
What is the harm of smoking? How can we quit smoking?
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