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
Visit QuitNet for inspiration and support!
This week, let’s take the new coping tools you identified from last week’s blog and apply them to your quit process. What did you come up with in response to the questions? Here they are again, with a few answers listed by other quitters:
- How will you relax? (take a bath, write in my journal, have a cup of tea, play with my children)
- How will you reward and celebrate? (visit with friends, go shopping, go out to eat, go to a movie, save up for a special purchase)
- How will you process feelings of anger? (talk it out, relax, let it go, handle things better next time)
- How will you deal with anxiety? (keep things in perspective, relax, let go, take a walk, take a both, read a book)
- How will you cope with stress? (deep breathing, repeat my mantra, relax, reward, exercise, talk about it, let it go)
- How will you overcome sadness, loneliness or depression? (reach out, exercise, write in journal, call a friend, spend time with my dog)
- Who will comfort you and help you get you through a bad day? (friends, family, QBuddy, coworker, husband, wife)
Once you have your own list of coping tools, it is time to identify your biggest trigger challenges. When are you most likely to struggle with your quit? Are mornings hardest? How about driving, at work, weekends or when company comes by? Knowing when you are most likely to be tested allows you to come up with a plan of action for that specific situation. Take charge of your triggers! For example, make driving less stressful by leaving earlier. Close your door at work and refuse interruptions during a project. Have an enjoyable activity planned for a weekend reward. Have an area designated outside for smoking visitors and so forth. Plan ahead as much as you can. Use your list of emotional coping tools before you get stressed, angry, sad, overwhelmed or tempted!
By managing your trigger situations and emotions, you will feel centered during day to day experiences. This ensures you can keep your quit going strong. When you cope effectively, you feel more in control of your environment and relapse is less likely to occur. This is all part of a successful quit. By actively meeting your emotional needs, you will do away with thoughts of smoking and feel less stress, anger or frustration. The more you practice your new behaviors, the easier it will be to work through old smoking triggers.
When you find yourself in a tough trigger moment; Stop. Just stop everything and acknowledge what you are feeling. Next, identify what triggered your feelings. You are quit, you wish to remain quit and smoking is not an option. Breathe in deeply, pause and exhale slowly. Repeat a mantra if you like, and relax a bit so you can move forward. Now review your options!
Once you know what you are feeling (EX: stress) and know what triggered it (EX: fighting kids) then you can use your list of coping tools for stress plus your comfort sources for bad days plus your coping tools for anxiety and relaxation. Now you feel less stressed, the urge to smoke has passed and you can move forward with a family discussion.
As you work your way through your quit process, you'll learn some things about yourself along the way. Enjoy the journey as your nonsmoking life unfolds!
Keep going and KTQ,
Vikki Chavez CTTS-M
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
A healthy diet can be an effective quit tool to help reduce cravings, mood swings, withdrawal symptoms and weight gain. Fear of weight gain is a common barrier to quitting smoking, as well as a primary relapse trigger. Following a healthy diet can put you in charge of your weight and wellbeing. Myths surrounding diet and exercise create justifications for weight gain, continued smoking, and relapse. Many people assume the following:
- If I keep smoking, I won’t gain weight. Did you know many quitters are over their ideal weight, so smoking hasn't helped prevent weight gain?
- If I relapse, I will lose the weight I gained during this quit. Did you know most people do not lose weight when they go back to smoking, and that quitting is not usually the cause of weight gain?
- I can’t afford to gain any more weight; it is bad for my health. Did you know that the stress on your heart from a pack a day habit is equal to an extra 90lbs of body weight?
The Awesome Truth About Weight Gain
Weight gain does not happen overnight. To gain 5lbs of actual body fat, you'd need to consume 17,500 calories more than what is required to maintain your current weight! This means you are in control of weight gain - it does not attack you against your willl.
Weight gain is almost always a result of overeating. many people eat too much or eat foods high in sugar and fat. When this is done consistently without exercising, you take in more than you can burn off -- and you gain weight. Eating within individual caloric requirements prevents weight gain.
And, that weight gain alters your muscle to body fat ratio, further slowing your metabolic rate. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabiloc rate. The more fat you have, the slower your metabolic rate. Men generally lose weight faster than women, as they tend to have more muscle. People who are overweight tend to store more fat from the calories they eat than those who are slender. This is why losing weight is harder each time you give it a try. Overweight smokers may already have a reduced metabolic rate as a result of current eating habits, lack of exercise and weight gain. The key to managing weight successfully lies in making different food choices than those that led to weight gain. Adding exercise is a great way to help get a sluggish metabolism going again.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so stopping smoking can potentially affect metabolic rate to a small degree. Reducing calories by just 200 per day can offset any changes in metabolism after quitting. This is the equivalent of bypassing one tall mocha from Starbucks (no whipped cream) or half a ham & cheese sandwich per day. Preventing weight gain realted to quitting smoking requires minimal changes to current lifestyle.
‘Scale Weight’ fluctuates from day to day based on multiple factors, including food consumption, sodium intake, water retention, hormones, medications, amount of sleep and stress levels. Weighing daily is not advised for this reason, as it can needlessly discourage the quitter. Most quitters gain less than 10lbs, which can be managed by making reasonable daily diet choices.
Hormones and Weight Gain
Women who quit may experience symptoms from hormone fluctuations similar to PMS. These symptoms may include increased appetite, bloating, cravings and water retention independent of dietary intake. Women quitting during or after menopause may experience increased fat storage (usually in waist/abdomen area) and reduced metabolism independent of quitting smoking. Hormone levels usually balance out within several months of remaining smoke free.
Some studies show quitters who use nicotine gum, lozenge or bupropion to support their quit may be less likely to gain weight during their quit. However, this effect only lasts while on the meds.
The Best Kept Secret: Fruits and Vegetables!
Research shows that among current smokers, those who ate the most fruit and/or vegetables were more likely to smoke less than a pack a day and wait at least 30 minutes before smoking their first cigarette of the day. This reduced dependence on smoking is huge, and a testament to the importance of dietary choices during your quit. Research shows abstinence rates were higher for quitters that consumed the highest amount of fruits or vegetables, and 3 times higher for those who ate both. (1)
Fruit and vegetable consumption, non-caffeinated beverages and dairy products worsen the perceived taste of cigarettes. On the other hand, meats, caffeinated beverages and alcohol were perceived as enhancing the taste of cigarettes. Drinking coffee or a cold beer may increase your cravings, so choose wisely for success.
Fruit comes to the rescue! The sugars in fruit also increase dopamine levels and thus reduce the craving for a cigarette, resulting in fewer cigarettes smoked each day and less nicotine dependence. Fruit contains fiber and many other beneficial nutrients (such as vitamin C) which also interact with the dopamine system. By getting your sugar crave fed with fruit, the newly quit can avoid candy and other junk foods that lead to binging and weight gain.
Daily Diet Tips for Success
Eat small, healthy, frequent meals to keep blood sugar levels steady. This will reduce cravings, fatigue and mood swings while revving up the metabolic rate. This one tip alone may counteract potential metabolic changes from stopping smoking.
1. Eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables! Half of your plate should be filled with F&V.
2. Eat nonfat dairy products, lean protein and whole grains.
3. Drink plenty of water, for both fullness and cleansing.
4. Avoid soda, junk food and excess sugar,fat and sodium.
Pay attention to what you eat, how much you eat and how often while consuming as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. These steps will ensure you keep both your quit and your waist line. The quit process brings opportunity to reach your weight management goals, as well. Another key component to success is exercise, which will be my next blog topic!
Keep going and KTQ,
Vikki Chavez CTTS-M
You don't have to quit alone:
(1) Reference: A Longitudinal Evaluation of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cigarette Smoking Jeffrey P. Haibach, M.P.H., Gregory G. Homish, Ph.D., & Gary A. Giovino, Ph.D., M.S., Nicotine Tob Res (2012) doi: 10.1093/ntr/nts130
Perhaps you have heard of first aid kits or survival kits, or even travel kits. But have you ever heard of a “quit kit"? Being prepared—whether for travel, medical emergencies, quitting smoking or otherwise—is essential for getting you through tough situations. A quit kit can serve as a tangible reminder of your commitment to a tobacco-free lifestyle. It can be particuarly helpful in the early weeks of quitting when cravings are toughest. In other words, before you turn to light up, turn to your quit kit. It should be filled with useful things that help you stay quit.
Here are some ideas to get you started on putting together your own personal quit quit:
Step 1: Obtain a container(s). Some useful sized quit kit containers might include: an empty mint tin, index card box, tea box, shoe box or paper box. Size doesn’t matter as long as it’s something easily accessible to you. You might even consider emptying the entire contents of a desk drawer or bedside table drawer and devote that space as your “quit kit.”
Step 2: Decorate your quit kit. This is the fun part! Decorating your quit kit with slogans, stickers, drawings or photos, cutouts from magazines, comics, etc. adds not only a personal touch to your quit kit but adds meaning. A photo of a loved one, a mantra like “One day at a time” just might be all it takes to help you stay motivated in your quit even before opening your kit and making use of what’s inside.
Step 3: Fill your quit kit. Think about what might be most helpful to you. Need an oral substitute? Fill your quit kit with toothpicks, straws, sugar-free candies, gum, sunflower seeds, bottled water or a toothbrush. Need something to keep your hands busy? How about rubber bands, a worry stone, play-doh, dice, coins, or a stress ball. Looking for support? Write down some positive affirmations on index cards, write out your reasons for quitting, or keep a list of phone number of friends and family members you can call. Print inspirational profiles, Qmails and testimonials of QuitNet members and look them over when you need a lift. Keep a journal in your quit kit. Record your quit journey—the ups and downs.
Step 4: Put your quit kit where you need it most. Maybe it’s someplace highly visible like on your kitchen table. Or maybe it’s in your car glove box or a desk drawer at work. Make multiple quit kits designated for different triggers—keep one on your beside table, beside your computer desk, or carry one in your briefcase, purse, or backpack.
You don't have to follow all of these steps or incorporate all of the suggested items into your quit quit. But do make sure that your “quit kit" works for you. Take the time and effort now to prepare for any potential challenges you may face in your quit. You may find you never have a need for your quit kit, but it will be there just in case….
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist