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!
Not enough can be said about the wonderful properties of water! Drinking water is healthy for your entire system, and helps you keep the quit! The human body is up to 70% water, and yet many people do not drink enough of it throughout the day. The American lifestyle itself can be dehydrating given our frequent consumption of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, sodas and high sodium meals. Mild dehydration can cause water retention, bloat, constipation and other symptoms including:
• Dry skin
• Lack of energy
• Dry mouth
Are you drinking enough water? Moderate to severe dehydration can be dangerous; even fatal. Drinking enough water can help your body in many ways. The ‘8 glasses per day’ conventional wisdom is not carved in stone (or substantiated by research) so how much water you need to drink per day varies. The more you sweat or exercise, the more water you need to replace. If you consume dehydrating foods and beverages, you will need to drink more. Fruits, vegetables, tea, soup and other diet choices contain water, so you can allow for some of the water content in your diet to count towards your overall daily water intake. Try aiming for 6 glasses a day to help get your water drinking habit moving forward. This can easily be accomplished by substituting a glass of water for every soda, sugar laden juice or junk food snack you would normally reach for. Water actually makes you want to drink more, so after a few days of drinking 6 glasses per day, you will actually feel thirsty. It is that easy!
Here are a few of the many benefits of drinking enough water per day:
• Helps you KTQ! Water is great for ‘hand to mouth’ triggers, reduces physical cravings, distracts from smoking urges and takes up empty time previous spent smoking.
• Helps clear toxins. Your kidneys use water to help break down, process and clear toxins from your system.
• Aids your digestive system. Your intestines use water to keep things moving smoothly! If you don’t drink enough water, your colon pulls water to maintain hydration and constipation is a likely result.
• Helps your blood and bones. Water is used by your body to make healthy new bone and muscle cells.
• Prevents puffiness. Water has a diuretic affect in your body. Inother words, drinking lots of water will increase the excretion of water from your body. Your body holds water to preserve it. If you drink enough water, you will not retain water (unless you have a medical condition).
• Helps your metabolism. Water contributes to weight loss by stimulating your metabolism, killing hunger pangs and filling you up.
• Helps your comfort level. Water is involved in balancing your body temperature.
• Saves your joints. Water lubricates your joints and may reduce pain.
• Gives your face a healthy glow. Water improves your skin through internal hydration.
• Saves You. Water may help prevent a heart attack! Drinking a glass of water before bed or a hot bath/shower may reduce your chance of a heart attack.
• Saves money. Water is cheaper than other beverages (or free).
• Improves your smile. Water has a slight alkalizing affect which helps reduce acidity and is good for your teeth and overall mouth health.
Drinking enough water is very good for all of you! You can add lemon, lime or a splash of juice to add flavor. Try ice, a straw and your favorite glass to make drinking water a pleasant part of your day. Next week we will talk about ways to kill your cravings with certain foods.
Drink up, and KTQ!
Vikki CTTS-M Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
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Stress is a common relapse trigger. Stress happens to all of us, and stressors range from mild to overwhelming. Since stress can build to a breaking point, a good stress management plan is crucial for a successful quit.
The minute you find yourself feeling stressed, stop. Stop everything you are doing and take a good deep breath. Pause, and feel the air fill your lungs. Exhale slowly. Repeat 5 times. Trust that everything is going to work out as it is meant to be, that you are capable of handling the situation and that your best is always good enough. All you can do is all you can do - then let go. Focus on the task at hand, only own what is yours to own, and let the rest go.
Many of us live days filled with an endless list of tasks, appointments, chores, responsibilities, obligations and work. Take some time out of every day to do a few things for you! It is your life and one worth living in joy, not stress.. The rest is just 'stuff'. What do you enjoy? Do it! Play music, take a long hot bath, take a walk, go to a movie, spend time alone, read, journal, fix a quiet & healthy meal, take a short drive, go window shopping or to your favorite restaurant. Give yourself permission to put you at the top of your list! Let someone else make dinner. Leave the floors or paperwork for later. Take a day off - ENJOY! You deserve a break, and nothing is worth more than enjoying the journey of our lives.
TALK WITH A FRIEND
A problem shared is trouble spared! Good friends offer you feedback, a space for you to be heard, a venue for you to process your thoughts (and often, your own solutions), a shoulder to cry on, a cheerleader, a confidant, shared joy, encouragement or comfort in times of need. Reach out! Be a good friend, and appreciate the good friends you have. Your life will be improved many times over.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
It is easy to get caught up in the swirl of worry and everything that is not working (car, dishwasher, conflicting personalities) when in fact, the majority of our lives ARE working! The washer may be broken, but how is your heart? Your health? Do you have somewhere to live? Have you laughed lately? Focus on what you do have, what you love, and what is right in your world. The rest is just random ups and downs. What you focus on grows - focus on all the good things around you!
HONOR YOUR QUIT
Quitting smoking is a big change. It takes effort, commitment, will power, planning and daily attention. Quitting is a good exercise in effective goal setting and completion, and each step in your quit process adds successful tools to use in other parts of your life. Celebrate and protect your quit by making every day a smoke free, relaxing day!
Stay tuned for Part 2; Detox. Until then, keep up the good work and KTQ!
Vikki CTTS- M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
One minute you feel fine, the next you feel like crying at the drop of a hat. Other times you may feel like breaking something (or someone).
Welcome to the roller coaster of emotions called quitting smoking. Feelings of anger, stress, sadness, anxiety, and elation cycle back and forth, up and down, and take you for a loop-de-loop leaving you feeling physically exhausted and emotionally drained.
If you think you are on this ride alone, you’re not. Many ex-smokers experience mood swings when they quit smoking. This is because nicotine is a mood enhancing drug. Nicotine works by releasing feel-good chemicals (called endorphins) in the brain awakening the reward pathway. When you quit smoking, you lose not only this chemically induced happiness, but the behaviors, habits and associations you’ve also created with cigarettes as a “friend,” stress relief, a crutch, and as a way to deal with a myriad of emotions.
But smoking was never a way to cope with emotions. Smoking was a way to not deal with emotions. Smoking cigarettes literally teaches smokers to mask emotions behind a smoke screen. Freeing yourself from behind that smokescreen means learning new ways of handling emotions more effectively. Studies show that in the long run, ex-smokers are actually happier than when they did smoke!
The road to feeling more in control of your emotions may very well start with acknowledging that, at least temporarily, your emotions are out of control. Try reigning them back in with these suggestions:
- Talk things out. Call up a friend and vent. Or consider finding a therapist. If you don’t want to talk things out, then write them out in a journal, text message someone, or log into the Q and use the three post rule!
- Increase endorphins, naturally. Doing things you enjoy naturally releases endorphins: exercising, gardening, spending time with friends, working on a hobby, and playing an instrument or sport. It’s hard to be upset or sad when you’re doing something you love!
- Take a breather. Step outside and take some deep breaths. Inhale slowly through the nose and out the mouth, counting to 10 each time. Go for a brisk walk or bike ride. Exercising outdoors has been shown to improve mood!
- Use rote responses. These are mantras you repeatedly chant to yourself: One day at a time. This too shall pass. Just BREATHE!
- Ask your doctor about medications. Some quit smoking medications can help minimize withdrawal symptoms (like irritability and mood swings) while others have anti-depressant or anti-anxiety properties (Bupropion). Some herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort show promise in alleviating mild depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Learning new ways to cope with emotions takes time and practice. You may not feel like yourself again for days, weeks or even months after quitting. While the emotional roller coaster won’t come to an abrupt stop, the bumps and dips do eventually even out. Hang in there!