Every little bit can help when you are planning to quit using tobacco or are in the process of quitting. Watching what you eat is one of those strategies. Here are some food-related tips for preventing weight gain, replenishing lost nutrients, overcoming cravings, and making tobacco taste worse as you quit.
Snack on vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C and other nutrients that can be depleted in smokers. They are also low in calories and can help prevent weight gain during the quitting process. Raw veggies are good for snacking and keeping your mouth busy to fight nicotine cravings.
Fruits are also rich in vitamins and minerals especially needed by smokers, and their lower calorie content makes them a great substitute for higher-calorie desserts. Smokers burn about 200 calories extra per day, but switching to a piece of fruit instead of a piece of cake can make up for those calories.
Switch to decaf
In a study among tobacco users, many reported that caffeine makes tobacco taste better. Switching to decaffeinated coffee and tea can help avoid this trigger.
Lay off the alcohol
Alcohol is another trigger that boosts tobacco's flavor. Plus, it brings calories and can lead to weight gain at a time when weight gain may already be threatening.
Try smaller meals
Being too hungry triggers cravings to smoke, so it is best to keep from feeling like you are starving at any one time. Having multiple small meals can prevent excessive hunger.
Make friends with celery
A cup of celery has 14 calories. Munching on raw celery can keep your mouth busy without worrying about weight gain, in contrast to munching on, say, potato chips with 150 calories per cup. Chewing on sugar-free gum and placing a pen or pencil between your lips while at your desk are other good options for your waistline.
Drinking water keeps your mouth busy without adding calories when you are considering putting a cigarette or other tobacco product in it. Staying hydrated also helps with weight control by avoiding the possibility of telling you that you are hungry when, in reality, you are thirsty.
Meat is another of those foods that makes tobacco taste better, so it may be safer to try fish instead.
Eat low-fat dairy products
Low-fat cheese and fat-free milk and yogurt are not just good for your heart, though that would be a reason in itself to eat them. Dairy products also make the taste of tobacco less appealing.
Skip fried foods
These make tobacco taste better and they pile on the pounds. Do you want to quickly overcome that 200-calorie deficit from quitting smoking? Just switch baked or grilled skinless chicken breast for breaded fried chicken with skin, baked zucchini sticks for french fries, OR grilled onions for onion rings.
Quitting tobacco use is quite the task, but eating well is one thing you can do to make the process easier. Lark can help you make small changes to your diet to reduce cravings and maintain your weight as you quit.
McClernon, F. Joseph, Eric C. Westman, Jed E. Rose, and Avery M. Lutz. 2007. "The Effects of Foods, Beverages, and Other Factors on Cigarette Palatability." Nicotine & Tobacco Research: Official Journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco 9 (4): 505–10.
Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.
Tobacco cessation is almost sure to come with stress. Using tobacco is a common mechanism for coping with stress, so quitting tobacco use is likely to increase feelings of stress without making other changes.