Last week we talked about the many benefits of drinking water. This week, we will look at how certain food choices may help you KTQ by reducing cravings.
Smokers usually smoke the minute they feel anything. That can make it difficult for the newly quit to even know what they are craving! It takes practice to identify thirst, hunger, fatigue or boredom. Chances are a tall, cool glass of water and the right snack can have a quitter feeling back on track in no time. Selecting foods that may help kill craves can also help prevent overeating and weight gain. Eating small amounts throughout the day can manage blood sugar levels, reduce cravings, increase energy, kick up metabolic rate and stabilize moods. Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it? Here are some great food choices:
• Fruit For sugar cravings, reach for fresh fruit. Eating fresh fruit is a good way to increase your fiber and water intake, and to fill up without filling out. Most fruits are alkalizing, which may help reduce nicotine cravings in the beginning of your quit. Blueberries, apples, cherries, watermelon, grapes, plums, and oranges are a few of the many fresh fruit options.
• Vegetables For hand-to-mouth snacking options, try fresh, sliced vegetables. Vegetables are high in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, and are low in calories. You can eat enough to get full without affecting your waistline. Most vegetables are alkalizing, which may help reduce nicotine cravings in the beginning of your quit. Try sliced bell peppers, zucchini, cucumber, celery and carrots. Or, mix up a salad with lettuce or spinach greens.
• Mint To reduce sugar or nicotine cravings, try strong mint flavors. Peppermint, spearmint, and menthol-flavored cough drops, gum, sugar free hard candies and breath mints may help kill a crave.
• Sour/Tart To reduce sugar or nicotine cravings, you can also try sour or tart flavors such as lemon, lime, lemon drops, dill pickles or stuffed olives.
• Spicy Try spicy foods like hot salsa, Tabasco sauce, red or green chilies, and jalapenos to kill cravings. A generous sprinkling of black pepper may help take the edge off of cravings, as well.
• Warm Eating a warm meal is often more filling than a cold one. Oatmeal is a good choice. Add some cinnamon, applesauce or raisins to increase fiber and crave fighting properties.
• Hot Sipping hot tea is time consuming, and hot liquid may help satisfy cravings. Choose licorice, peppermint, lemon, cinnamon or other such flavored teas to help kill the crave. Green tea is high in antioxidants, and detox teas may offer added support for the newly quit.
• Crunchy The hand to mouth habit associated with smoking is hard to break. Eating crunchy foods like apples, almonds, seeds and raw vegetables can help to satisfy this trigger.
• Fat Foods that are high in healthy fats help you feel full longer and experience cravings less. Olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and avocados are some examples of healthy fats.
• Fiber Healthy foods that are high in fiber help you feel full longer and can counteract some of the constipation associated with quitting. Oatmeal, raisins, vegetables and legumes are some examples of high fiber foods.
To help yourself make good food choices, stock up ahead of time. Arrange your cabinets so the best food choices are front and center. Better yet, make a 'Quit Shelf' with all your go-to crave-killing foods and tape up a few motivational cards with images, mantras, or inspiring statements on them. You can even add your quit stats to your cards weekly. :) With preparation and commitment, you can make this quit your healthiest quit, your best quit - and your last quit!
Keep up the good work, keep going, and KTQ!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Quit with us!
St. John’s Wort? Lobelia? Laser Therapy? Acupuncture? Herbal cigarettes? Electronic cigarettes? Hypnosis?
There is no lack of alternative treatments available to smokers looking to quit tobacco. Smokers often turn to herbal remedies as a last ditch effort because they have "tried everything unsuccessfully" or "don't want to quit using medication." But do these methods really work?
To date, there is little data supporting the effective and safe use of alternative therapies for quitting smoking. That being said, this does not mean that alternative medications do not have their place in smoking cessation. Any method can work for someone, somewhere, and at some point in time, if only because someone believes it will.
If you are looking into alternative therapies to help you quit smoking, be a savvy consumer and do your research. Read articles from credible sources such as universities or health organizations. Below are a few helpful links:
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Alternative Smoking Cessation Aids
Federal Trade Commission
Have a discussion with your doctor. Take into account your tobacco dependence, any pre-existing health issues, allergies and reactions, and current medications you are taking. While a quit method may claim to be "natural" or "herbal," it may not be free of side effects. Keep in mind too, that natural does not necessarily mean safe. Most medications are metabolized in the liver or kidneys. This means medications can potentially harm these organs, particularly when using them (pharmaceutical, "natural" or otherwise) in combination. Be sure to notify your doctor of any changes in moods or if you exhibit alarming side effects (i.e. swelling, chest pain, yellowing of the skin, etc.).
Get testimonials from real people who have used these products. Do not rely on commercials! Manufacturers of herbal supplements can--and often do--make unsupported claims about their products--"quit smoking in one day!" Be suspicious of any quit method that claims to “cure you of smoking instantly." Quitting is a process, not an event. Nicotine addiction operates on multiple levels—physical, emotional, behavioral, and psychological. A sound quit plan should address ALL of these things.
There are pros and cons to every quit method. Whatever method you choose, keep in mind that it should be complemented with a good support system and a sound plan for coping with triggers (i.e. behavior and lifestyle changes). Be sure to talk with your doctor about what would work best for you and follow up with appropriate lab work.
Tobacco Treatment Specialist