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No Pain, No Gain: Preventing Extra Pounds When You Quit Smoking

no-smoking sign

There’s no two ways about it: it’s hard to quit smoking.  Cigarettes are extremely addictive not only because of the nicotine your body craves, but because the act of smoking becomes a habit so deeply ingrained in your psyche and muscle memory that you want the action even after the physical addiction is long gone.  But even beyond struggling through DT and overcoming your absentminded penchant for lighting your pen and sticking it in your mouth, there are other side effects associated with quitting, and the one that most people dread is the notorious weight gain.  And it’s no wonder.  Declaring “no butts” means you not only need to feed your oral fixation, but without the taste of an ashtray lingering on your tongue, you can actually experience food again; and it tastes great!  However, there are a few ways to control your caloric intake and avoid packing on those fabled pounds when you lay down the lighter.

1. Sugar-free candy.  Possibly the best solution for fighting cravings is to keep a bag of sugar-free candy available at all times.  Hard candy is the best since you can suck on it, but sugar-free gum works equally well.  This keeps your mouth busy for awhile and helps you to feel satisfied without the fear of adding to your waistline.  Still, you should try not to eat it by the handful since it may spoil your regular meals, and good nutrition is important when you’re detoxing.

2. Eat slowly.  Although it was probably your normal routine to scarf down each meal so that you could run off to smoke afterwards, you’re going to have to break yourself of that habit as well.  If you finish before everyone else at the table and then have to sit there while you’re itching for a cigarette, you may be tempted to shovel more food down the old gullet.  So make sure to take your time when you eat.  Try cutting food into small pieces and eating them one at a time or preparing foods that require some disassembly.

3. Rediscover raw veggies.  You’ll probably find yourself snacking quite a bit at first, likely every time you would normally reach for a cigarette.  So for starters, you’ll definitely want to remove foods from your home that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium.  Instead, keep a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand.  Crudité (raw veggies) is a healthy and satisfying snack.  Try eating it alone or prepare some celery sticks with peanut butter or carrots and broccoli with lite dressing whenever you’re feeling peckish.

4. BYOF.  One of the major difficulties for those who are trying to kick the habit is entering social situations like parties where non-stop chain smoking is commonplace.  You may be sorely tempted to pick up a cig in such a situation, but instead, you’ll likely mow on plates of hors d’oeuvres for the duration of the evening.  In this case, preparation is the key to success.  Bring along a few low-cal snacks to keep you on track as well as some sparkling water to help you avoid the wet-bar (alcohol is not only high in calories and sugar, it also breaks down your inhibitions).

5. Exercise.  This will help your body detox, lose weight, and feel good overall.  Consider doing 10-20 push-ups, sit-ups, or squats every time you have a craving instead of reaching for a donut and schedule in some regular cardio to flex your newly liberated lungs!

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