Weight gain is a common concern when quitting smoking. Some people even use it as a reason not to quit. While it’s true that many smokers put on weight within six months of stopping smoking, the gain is usually small—about five pounds on average—and that initial gain decreases over time. It’s also important to remember that carrying a few extra pounds for a few months won’t hurt your heart as much as smoking will. Of course, gaining weight is NOT inevitable when you quit smoking.
Smoking acts as an appetite suppressant. It also dampens your sense of smell and taste. So after you quit, your appetite will likely increase and food will seem more appealing. Weight gain can also happen if you replace the oral gratification of smoking with eating, especially if you turn to unhealthy comfort foods. So it’s important to find other, healthy ways to deal with stress and other unpleasant feelings rather than mindless, emotional eating.
- Nurture yourself. Instead of turning to cigarettes or food when you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, learn new ways to soothe yourself.
- Eat healthy, varied meals. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and limit your fat intake. Seek out low-fat options that look appetizing to you and you will actually eat. Avoid alcohol, sugary sodas, and other high-calorie drinks.
- Drink lots of water. Drinking lots of water—at least six to eight 8 oz. glasses—will help you feel full and keep you from eating when you’re not hungry. Water will also help flush toxins from your body.
- Take a walk. Walking is a great form of exercise. Not only will it help you burn calories and keep the weight off, but it will also help alleviate feelings of stress and frustration that accompany smoking withdrawal.
- Snack on low-calorie or calorie-free foods. Good choices include sugar-free gum, carrot and celery sticks, sliced bell peppers or jicama, or sugar-free hard candies.