Today is the American Cancer Society’s “Great American Smokeout”. Occurring annually on the third Thursday of November, this day is designated as a reminder of the dangers of smoking. It’s also a day dedicated to calling on and challenging smokers to quit. But kicking the habit is hard, and the added fear of weight gain is a real concern for many people. Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid weight gain when you quit smoking. Below, you’ll find 6 tips and tricks to maintain (and even lose) weight while you take up the challenge to go smoke-free.
While some individuals will gain more or less when they quit smoking, the average weight gain is about 5 – 10 lbs. Most of that occurs within the first year. And it’s no wonder. Nicotine is proven to suppress appetite and elevate metabolism. Take that away, and now you’re feeling a little hungrier and a little less energetic. And you’re experiencing cravings to resolve both. It’s a shock to your system, and it can take time to adapt.
So what can you do to succeed at quitting smoking AND maintaining your weight?
1. Adjust Your Diet
Prevent hunger by eating foods that will keep you feeling satisfied longer. Incorporate foods into your meals that are high in fiber and protein, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, eggs, and fish. Try eating smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.
2. Satisfy Cravings with Healthy, Low-Calorie Alternatives
Don’t reach for unhealthy snacks like chips, cookies, or candy. In fact, get those things out of the house, or at least put them out of sight. Instead, choose fruits, nuts, Greek yogurt, hummus, or popcorn. Keep it fresh and keep it light.
3. Boost Your Activity Level
When you increase your activity, you burn more calories and boost metabolism (which helps you burn more calories even when you’re at rest). You don’t need to live at the gym – or even visit one at all. Just sneak in 20 minutes of moderate activity to your daily routine. Take a walk. Use the stairs more throughout the day. Park at the far end of the parking lot. If you keep an eye out for them, you’ll find that there are many opportunities throughout the day to squeeze in some extra activity.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Research has shown that adequate sleep is an important part of weight management. After all, when you’re feeling tired, you’re more likely to indulge in that mega-sized latte to get yourself moving or fuel your afternoon with Hershey’s kisses. You’ll probably be too tired for that walk, too. So, as important as it is to get activity, sleep is also crucial to your success.
5. Keep Your Hands Busy
For a lot of people, no cigarette means nothing to do with your hands. It can feel uncomfortable and awkward – especially in social settings. So, keep them busy with a fidget spinner or a stress ball.
6. Chew Sugarless Gum
Chewing gum is a simple way of keeping your mouth busy. But opt for sugarless gum.
If you’re trying to stop smoking, and you’re concerned with potential weight gain, don’t be. While the tips above can do a lot to help, it’s more important that you don’t lose sight of the fact that the benefits of quitting smoking far outweigh the risks associated with weight gain of 5 – 10 lbs. Focus on what’s more important and kick that dangerous habit. We can help you with the weight.
Remember, you got this!