People sometimes gain weight when they stop smoking. You can reduce your chances of adding extra pounds by taking steps that will help you manage the temptation to substitute food for a cigarette. Here are some suggestions for maintaining your weight while you work on quitting and becoming healthier.
Taking a walk, riding a bicycle, dancing, or doing any other aerobic activity you enjoy is an important component of a weight-control program. Try to exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week. Now that you’ve stopped smoking, you may find physical activity easier and more enjoyable.
Eat less fat
Decrease your fat intake by substituting lower-fat foods for high-fat ones. Drink skim milk instead of whole milk, use mustard instead of mayonnaise, and have a baked potato instead of French fries.
Drink plenty of water
It’s easy to mistake hunger for thirst, so drink water when you’re tempted to eat between meals. Many smokers associate smoking with caffeine, so if you are one of them, avoid caffeinated beverages.
Snack on high-fiber foods
These include air-popped popcorn, whole-grain crackers and cereals, carrot sticks, celery sticks, raisins, apples, and grapes. These foods will fill you up without adding a significant amount of calories or fat.
When you eat a meal, do it slowly to help keep from overeating. Try cutting your food into very small pieces or putting your fork down after each bite.
Use healthy alternatives
Keep low-calorie substitutes for cigarettes in your desk, pocket or purse. Carrots or breadsticks or low-fat, low-salt pretzels are healthier alternatives than a high-fat candy bar, a doughnut, or a bag of chips.
Chew sugarless gum
When a craving hits, try gum or sugarless mints or low-calorie hard candies. Suck on one piece of candy and let it melt slowly.
Brush your teeth or suck on a breath mint as soon as you’re done eating your main course. Doing so will make you less likely to have dessert.
Do something else when a craving for a cigarette or food hits. Try calling a friend, taking a walk, reading a book, or working on a project.
Find a hobby
Find things to do with your hands that aren’t food-related. Consider taking up a hobby, such as woodworking, gardening, or doing crossword puzzles. You can also squeeze a hand grip or a small rubber ball, play with a pen or handle some other small object, such as a pebble, keychain, or coin.
Visit the Saint Peter’s Better Health Library to learn more about maintaining your weight while you quit smoking.