One of the common myths among smokers is the fear of packing on the pounds once you throw away the pack of cigarettes. This is of course not true, but for many people who have developed a habit of smoking after a meal, or in place of a meal, or even those who use smoking to curb their appetites, it’s a real deterrent for quitting smoking. If you don’t change any of your eating habits and take away the cigarette crutch, it’s possible to gain some weight, but there are ways to avoid this and still gain a much healthier body and a longer life.
Here are some helpful tips from Bumrungrad’s Smoking Cessation Clinic to help you be a smart and healthy quitter.
1. Start a new post-meal ritual. For most smokers, the cigarette at the end of the meal helps them transition from active eating to being “done.” Some may even use this post-meal cigarette to help them stop eating too much, or too far beyond fullness. This may not always be a conscious choice, and in any case it’s important to consider this loss to your daily routine and have a plan for replacing it. Some healthy post-meal rituals can be as simple as brushing your teeth, or getting up from the table and going for a short walk.
2. Eat regular meals and always have healthy snacks on hand. One of the pitfalls for people trying to lose weight or keep the pounds off is what happens when hunger strikes and there are no healthy options nearby. The simple solution to this is to always plan your meals for the day and be prepared for the times in between meals when a craving might strike. Luckily, we live in a part of the world where a healthy bag of fresh fruit doesn’t cost much money and is usually just a short walk away – a great way to get through a cigarette and hunger craving.
3. Spend time outside. As much as possible, try to be active outside every day, especially in the early days after quitting smoking. Research has shown that even within a few days of quitting, your airways feel cleaner and you can enjoy being more active outside. Take advantage of this new positive change and go for a short walk or a bike ride around your neighborhood, and enjoy your healthier lungs.
4. Keep your hands and mouth busy. A common complaint among ex-smokers is the sudden loss of something to do with their hands or mouths, having been so accustomed to always having something to do or something to put in their mouths. This is a habit that will eventually go away, but until it does, it can be a constant reminder of the fact that you’ve quit smoking, which can then be intimidating. Even if you have to chew on a celery stick or floss your teeth, give yourself space to acknowledge this fixation and do what you can to keep yourself busy.
5. Go easy on yourself. Quitting smoking is not easy, and even if you end up putting on a few pounds, the health risks of smoking will far outweigh whatever small amount of weight you might have put on. Just remember that healthier lungs and a stronger body make it that much easier to undertake a weight loss program, and keep your focus on the bigger goal.
Arriving at the decision to quit smoking is one of the best decisions you can make for your life, so try not to be discouraged by the challenges that may come at the beginning of your journey. Take up some healthier habits, and try to surround yourself with people who understand the importance of this decision so they can support you along the way. If you’re ready to quit smoking and need the resources to be successful, contact our team of specialists at the Pulmonary Center and get on the road to a lifetime of fresh air.