Cigarette use is detrimental to one’s health. Apart from exacerbating risks of cancer and heart disease, our post ‘A Study Reveals the Side Effects of Marijuana and Tobacco Smoke’ points out that individuals who smoke tobacco can develop emphysema among other lung issues. This condition causes smokers to experience inflamed airways and ultimately leads to damaged lungs.
Fortunately, smoking cessation can help circumvent said chronic diseases. But although quitting cigarettes increases life expectancy and improves the quality of life, data from a JAMA Network study on smoking cessation shows that it often comes with increases in weight and body mass index. For many smokers, that potential weight gain can deter them from continuing their smoking cessation journey.
That said, there are still ways you can avoid putting on weight after quitting. This article has listed five essential strategies that can allow you to do just that:
1. Cultivate healthier eating habits
Cultivating healthy eating habits is crucial to combat post-cessation weight gain. In fact, a National Library of Medicine report on healthy lifestyles stresses the importance for smokers to modify their diet. This is because quitting smoking can result in individuals craving food that are high in carbohydrates.
Thankfully, you can mitigate these cravings in a number of ways. First, plan your meals ahead of time. This gives you control over what you eat and allows you to focus on incorporating nutrient-dense whole foods into your diet. Next, stay away from empty calories. If you often consume sugary beverages like sodas, swap them out for healthier alternatives like fresh juice. You can even choose herbal teas which contain plant compounds that can drive your metabolism and keep you from gaining weight.
2. Maintain regular physical activity
Regular exercise is essential in any weight management attempt. So unsurprisingly, this stands true for post-cessation weight gain as well. That said, remember to choose exercises that are based on what your body can handle. This is because your previous smoking habit might have decreased your lung function.
So on that note, adopt workouts that can improve lung capacity and strengthen your heart. Cardiovascular exercises such as brisk walking, cycling, and swimming are ideal if you want to not only keep the weight off, but clear out your lungs after quitting. These are also great for building your endurance and stamina back up. Whichever workout you decide on, make sure that you can incorporate it into your daily routine to counteract any weight gain.
3. Be diligent about your sleep schedule
Sleep plays a pivotal part in circumventing weight gain after quitting. The link between sleep, poor eating habits, and weight gain has long since been studied. A 2022 Washington Post article on sleep deprivation shows that your sleep habits strongly influence the amount and types of food you eat. When you’re deprived of sleep, it can trigger brain and hormonal changes that stimulate food cravings.
This is why you should be diligent about getting enough rest and follow a strict sleep schedule. As much as possible, fall asleep at the same time each night to lessen insulin sensitivity and changes to your metabolism. Likewise, you can download sleep apps like Yours, which offers soothing and positive stories that are meant to reduce anxiety as you fall asleep. By applying these tips, you can get better sleep and impede risks of weight gain caused by your quit attempt.
4. Utilize nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products
According to a 2022 Environmental Research and Public Health report, post-cessation weight gain can be prevented with the support of NRT products. NRTs such as nicotine pouches can regulate withdrawal symptoms like increased appetite and restlessness. In turn, this can mitigate instances of low satiety and emotional eating.
Nicotine pouches are easy to use as they’re typically tucked in between a user’s cheeks for a kick of nicotine without any risk. The tobacco-free nicotine pouches by ZYN show how the mouth will not suffer any of the possible side effects associated with nicotine and tar, making them a discreet, and satisfying way to reduce cigarette cravings. Another reason they are effective is because they come in a diverse range of flavors, such as cinnamon, citrus, and peppermint, to deliver a more enjoyable quit experience. For some, the addition of such flavors in these non-consumable products can even reduce the chances of a smoker reaching for an unnecessary snack.
5. Stock up on sugar-free gum
Chewing gum is a typical recommendation to help smokers cope with tobacco withdrawal. Specifically, the “hand to mouth” behavior of smoking can be mimicked by the act, distract individuals from their smoking habit, and keep their mouths occupied.
Despite that, gum can still contain high amounts of sugar, which can counteract your attempt to avoid weight gain. This is why you should stock up on sugar-free gum. As sugarless gums from Kraft Foods demonstrate, these items come in various flavors like peppermint and contain fewer calories than regular gum. You can likewise avoid exposing your teeth to sugar while still helping your quit journey.
Although smoking cessation can be accompanied by increased weight, this shouldn’t discourage you from quitting. Hopefully, the strategies we have listed above can help.
I’m Rose Will, and I’m excited to share my journey as a content writer and graphic designer at Nog Magazine. It’s a unique role that allows me to blend my love for words and visuals seamlessly.
At Nog, I wear two creative hats – one as a content writer and the other as a graphic designer. This dual role provides me with a dynamic and enriching work experience that keeps me engaged and inspired.