When asked what is preventing them from trying to quit smoking cigarettes, a vast majority of smokers report fear of weight gain. It is estimated that on average, heavy smokers gain 5 to 10 pounds in the coming months after they’ve officially kicked the habit.
Nixing the nicotine is arguably one of the best things you can do for your health, but concerns around weight gain are valid. However, you might be relieved to hear that it’s not a guaranteed result, and there are plenty of things you can do to stop gain from happening.
Why Does Weight Gain Happen?
Before we dive into weight gain prevention tips, let’s take a look at the effects of nicotine on the body that drastically change after one has quit smoking:
- Metabolism: Nicotine is known to speed up metabolism, increasing the number of calories your body burns at rest by 7 or 8 percent. Without it, your metabolism may slow down.
- Appetite: Nicotine is also an appetite reducer. Once there’s none left in your body, you may find yourself craving high calorie and highly palatable foods like carbs.
- Mood: People often smoke when they’re stressed or sad. Without nicotine, one may be tempted to eat or sleep rather than choosing healthier coping mechanisms.
Tips to Quit Smoking, but Keep Your Weight in Check:
Control Your Drinking
Transfer addiction can lead you to ditch one unhealthy habit for the next. Avoid excessive drinking to cut back on calories. Opt for water or experiment with herbal teas instead.
Try Sugar-free Gum
Oftentimes it’s the oral fixation you’re looking to soothe after quitting smoking. To help, try different flavors of sugar-free gum to save on calories and protect your teeth.
Get Moving to Burn Restless Energy
Exercise will not only help you burn calories and reduce intense cravings after you’ve given up nicotine, but will also help you manage stress in a healthier way.
Invest in New, Healthy Groceries
You’ve probably got more money after quitting smoking. Spend some of it at the supermarket shopping for versatile fruits, veggies, lean meats, low-fat yogurt and healthy “finger foods.”
Find New Ways to Get Social
Smoking isn’t the only way to socialize. If you’re tempted by bars and restaurants, try active social activities instead such as walking, hiking, team sports, sight-seeing or entertainment.
Boredom is a common trigger to resume old habits. Avoid smoking or emotional eating with healthy distractions such as yard work, house work, exercise, arts and crafts or shopping.
Find Support for Your Goals
Finally, know that almost everyone who has quit smoking is familiar with its challenges. Weight gain is not inevitable, but you likely have to focus on changing your lifestyle to prevent it from happening. Find support in your spouse, family, friends or even a health professional, and be honest about the struggles you’re facing. Burdens are lifted when you let other people in.