Quitting Smoking: Dealing With Weight Gain
Quitting Smoking: Dealing With Weight Gain
How can you deal with weight gain when you quit smoking?
Knowledge is a powerful
thing. Now that you know that quitting smoking can make you want to eat more,
or eat more often, you can be ready for it.
- Remember that the secret to weight
control—whether you smoke or not—is eating healthy food and becoming more
- Don't try to diet
when you quit smoking. Most people who try to lose weight at the same time they
are trying to stop smoking have an even harder time of stopping smoking. Instead, eat more fruits,
vegetables, and whole-grain foods. And learn more about healthy fats.
- Find ways to get more active. Take
the stairs. Park farther away. Take walks. Start a program at the gym, or take
up a new sport.
Have a plan
control of your weight will be easier if you have a plan. Before your quit
- Know what activities will tempt you to smoke or
eat, and avoid them. It may help to keep a journal of the times when you're
- Think about how you will fill the time when you
usually smoke. For example, if you love that after-meal cigarette, don't
replace that cigarette with more food. Get up and brush your teeth, go for a
walk, or wash the dishes.
- Make a list of healthy foods that you especially
like. Try some new low-calorie snacks and drinks. Stock up on the ones
- Think about how you can work more exercise into your
life. Besides helping you stay away from cigarettes, exercise burns calories.
Plan to take short walks or do some stretches at times when you would
Tips for avoiding weight gain
Think positive, and keep temptation away:
- Don't quit smoking during holiday periods.
You're more likely to eat more then.
- Stay away from alcohol.
Alcohol drinks have a lot of calories, so avoiding them will help you control
your weight. And drinking can weaken your willpower, especially if you usually
smoke when you drink.
- Eat at least 3 healthy meals a day so you
don't get hungry. For some people, eating smaller healthy meals more than 3
times a day works better. And eat more whole-grain foods. They stay with you
longer and help keep you from getting hungry.
- Consider getting
professional help. Nutritionists, fitness instructors, and therapists can all
help you control your weight when you quit smoking.
- Make regular
activity part of your life. Walking is a great exercise that most people enjoy
and can do.
It may help to walk or exercise
with a partner or group.
- Weigh yourself at least once a week. Keep
a pencil and paper near the scales, and write your weight down. That way the
extra pounds won't "sneak up" on you.
- Remind yourself every day of
how much healthier you are for having quit smoking.
Remember, looking good is much more important than how much
you weigh. Smelling clean and smoke-free, having fresh breath, having fingers
and teeth free of yellow tobacco stains, and feeling healthier all make you
Food and cigarettes
A big reason
people gain weight is that they reach for food instead of a cigarette after
- When you have a craving for a cigarette or
food, remember that cravings usually last only a few minutes. Do something else
to occupy your time for those few minutes.
than eating candy or other food to replace the cigarettes, try chewing on a
drinking straw, toothpick, or coffee stirrer.
- If you must have
something sweet in your mouth, eat fruit or try sugar-free gum or
- Come up with something else to keep your hands busy so you
don't use them to eat. For example, take up knitting, beading, doing crossword
puzzles, or just doodling.
- People often turn to food at times of
tension or stress. Find other ways to deal with those times. Go for a walk.
Vacuum the floor.
Test Your Knowledge
The best way to control your weight when you quit
smoking is to go on a diet.
Continue to Where to go from here
Return to Quitting Smoking: Dealing With Weight Gain
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry
July 6, 2011
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