Today is the Great American Smokeoutwhere millions (hopefully) will make the decision to quit smoking for good. But people often worry about weight gain that seems to often follow giving up cigarettes.
Smoking does appear to slightly boost metabolism and burn caloriesbut the change is not likely the primary reason for the weight gain. Nicotine acts as an appetite suppressantmaking you less hungry. Alsotobacco smoke dulls the taste budswhich quickly shed and new ones grow in their place – making foods taste better.
A recent study found that nicotine replacement products are very helpful when quitting smoking. Continuing to have a source of nicotine may help break the cigarette habit without causing too much of an appetite change. But there are ways to prevent or minimize weight gain while quitting
Eat slowly and chew food longer. If you are used to rushing through meals to smokeyou may find that you eat more calories in a sitting because you are eating for a longer period of time. Take time to savor your food.
Keep healthy snacks close by. When you quit smokingyour hands are often left feeling like they have nothing to doso you reach for food. Make your snacks low calorie and high fiber so that they are filling without packing on the pounds. Try vegetable sticksfresh fruitlow-fat popcornor sunflower seeds.
Drink something. Often you can quell a hunger sensation with a low-calorie drinksuch as herbal teawateror diet lemonade. Avoid caffeinated productssuch as diet colas though – these can actually increase appetite.
Also avoid alcohol. Alcohol is not only a high source of calorieswithout many nutrientsit often leaves you craving a cigarette since many people associate smoking and drinking as activities to do together.
Keep your mouth busy with sugar free candy or gum.
Go for a walk. Exercise can help you beat cravings for both cigarettes and junk food.
The American Heart Association offers tips for managing the situations that may tempt you to eat more and gain weight on their website.