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!
It's taken a lot of hard work, with possibly some challenges to get to this tobacco-free place. This is where you want to remain. Being a recent quitter increases the risk of relapse. Quitting smoking can be physically uncomfortable and mentally exhausting. Consider using a quit medication if you have a difficult time during the first couple of weeks maintaining a quit. Connecting with a support network, reaching out to a quit-buddy, or talking to a smoking cessation counselor is helpful in keeping you focused and on track.
Staying quit and preventing a relapse requires a plan to maintain your new healthy lifestyle. Recognize behavior that could get you in trouble and plan ahead with coping skills, strategies for distraction, and emotional support. You will need to find alternatives to the temptations to smoke; learn from your quitting history where your stumbling triggers lie and seriously commit to doing whatever it takes to not smoke.
Pay attention to signs of a potential relapse. Have you noticed your mind wandering down memory lane? Perhaps thinking of smoking a bit more than usual? Watch out if you find yourself rationalizing that you can smoke just one or feeling over confident and falsely believing you are solid in your quit and can take a few puffs. Slips and relapses all start with one puff so avoid the risk. Ask yourself why you are questioning or contemplating going down this road. Practice countering your smoking rationalizations with truthful statements that support quitting smoking. Respond to ‘I feel healthy.’ and ‘Smoking doesn’t affect me because I don’t inhale.’ by telling yourself ‘Smoking affects every organ and system in my body, including my mouth, teeth and tongue’ ‘Quitting smoking now will reduce my chances of a smoking related illness.’ The only sure way to stay quit is by adhering to the “Not One Puff Ever” maxim. Continue to stay focused on your quit and reward yourself for all your good efforts.
Weight gain associated with quitting smoking is often another reason given for returning to smoking. Try not to become overwhelmed with taking on too many life changes at once. Keep the priority on your quit, knowing that the weight can be dealt with by eating healthy food choices, smaller portions and getting some physical movement daily. A little weight gain is far less harmful to you than continued smoking.
Be prepared to anticipate and identify high risk situations. Being out socially where smoking is prevalent, drinking alcohol or being in a heated argument are all situations that could trigger a relapse. Risky occasions happen when you least expect, during fun times at family gatherings, visiting old friends, even when you’re bored with nothing to do. Protect your quit by rehearsing mentally how you will cope with these varying situations. See yourself saying no to the cigarette offered to you by a friend at a party, or whatever scene may play out in the future and responding with the alternative coping strategy you’ve decided to use instead of smoking. Get suggestions for good trigger strategies from the coaches or members at QuitNet.
Balancing a healthy lifestyle is essential in maintaining a quit. Find new ways to manage the stress in your life; get some physical exercise, meditate, keep a journal and take care of yourself doing things you enjoy. Planning ahead for potential triggers will help you avoid the snare of relapsing.
Keep coming back, and KTQ!
People who have smoked for most of their lives may not recall what life was like before smoking. For years, smoking was a reward, a past time, a coping tool for stress, anger, boredom, anxiety, sadness, frustration and every other emotion or challenge that came along.
As a result, longtime smokers may not have developed emotional coping tools or practiced letting go or learned to sit with their feelings. This can leave the newly quit in double trouble! At the same time withdrawals, anxiety and stress step in, the quitter's only known coping tool (smoking) steps out. When you stop smoking, you stopped doing something you were used to doing every day for many years. It is no wonder why your emotions go through a challenging time!
It is normal to feel nervous, restless and even sad when you quit smoking. You miss your daily ritual; even more so if there are no new behaviors in place for each of the moments throughout the day that you used to smoke.
Quitting is a process. It takes time. It does not feel comfortable at first and that is OK! When you stop smoking, you can no longer do what you used to do in the same way you used to do it. Temporary mood swings can result from quit related hormone fluctuations and quit related withdrawals. It will get better, so keep going!
Know that every smoker goes through similar challenges. As you work your way through your quit, you are actually 'becoming a nonsmoker', not just 'not smoking'. Make a commitment to find new emotional coping tools so you can move forward happily and successfully as a nonsmoker. Plan ahead how you will meet your emotional needs as a nonsmoker. Your answers to the following questions will help provide you with a personal road map to success:
- How will you relax?
- How will you reward and celebrate?
- How will you process feelings of anger?
- How will you deal with anxiety?
- How will you cope with stress?
- How will you overcome sadness, depression?
- What will comfort you and get you through a bad day?
Chances are, you have no idea how to answer these questions because you have never had to! This is a normal experience, and rest assured you can find things that interest you, inspire you, calm, comfort, entertain and support you as a nonsmoker.
Think of things that have helped you get through strong trigger moments in the past. Think of things that make you laugh or recall fondly. Really work your quit process; brainstorm and come up with new emotional coping tools that can address your individual needs effectively. Next week, we will take these new coping tools you've identified and discuss how to move forward successfully as a nonsmoker!
Keep going and KTQ,
Vikki CTTS-M Celebrate your quit with other quitters:
You had a good quit going, then you smoked one. Now what?
A slip is a red arrow pointing to a personal trigger challenge. A relapse is a red arrow pointing to a large space in your quit plan.
What to do next?
STOP. Go back to the very beginning. Every single quit - be it an hour, a day or a year - has within it all the tools you need to ensure your next quit is your best (and last) quit ever!
If you have quit for half a day, that means you have quit successfully before! It also means you know how to quit, how to get through an urge, what works good for you and what does not, when your hardest trigger times are and what has led to a slip or relapse in the past.
Move forward today by writing down a successful quit plan, one that is custom tailored just for you via your previous quit(s):
What are your 3 biggest smoking triggers?
How do you plan to get beyond them?
What worked before? What else are you willing to try? Write it down.
What are your 3 biggest motivators for being a nonsmoker?
What are 3 great benefits you noticed last time when you Quit?
Write it down!
Think of 3 more motivators or benefits and add them to your list.
Post your motivators on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, car visor, desk and so forth. Be sure to Celebrate your Quit! Acknowledge how great you're doing to inspire more great days.
What are your personal emotional triggers?
How did you cope with stress, boredom, frustration and anger last time?
What else can you try this time?
Write it all down. Do it again + add some new options!
How did you reward, relax, comfort, enjoy, fill your time & socialize as a nonsmoker during your last quits? What else can you try? It is important your emotional needs are met, not ignored! If you reward, relax, comfort, enjoy and stay busy, then you will not be bored or stressed or feel like you are 'missing out' as a nonsmoker, so really think it thorugh and write it down.
Why did you slip or relapse this time? Why did you slip or relapse last time?
Using your answers from the above questions, what are 5 things you will commit doing this time instead of smoke when faced with each one of your relapse triggers?
What are 3 more things you are willing to try?
Plan ahead and write it down.
Now you have an outline of your quit personal 'get back on track' action plan.
Remember, NRT/Chantix/Zyban only work to the degree that the quitter works their quit process. Support products are very helpful and they 'take the edge off' as the quitter moves forward. Ultimately, it is the 'quitter moves forward' part that results in a successful quit.
Commit to get back on track with your quit. You can do this - you already have!
Good luck and keep going!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
You don't have to quit alone:
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
New Year's Day often comes with resolutions and commitments to meet new goals. Taking stock and choosing to make changes that improve the way we live our lives is a good thing! It is how we grow and improve our overall wellbeing. Usually around this time in January, many feel themselves losing momentum and focus no matter how worthy the goals and sincere their efforts. Rest assured, that is just the natural ebb and flow of the change process. You may be second guessing your reasons for setting the goals in the first place. You may have commited to too much at once or got lost in the day-to-day tasks of living.
We tend to feel life gets in the way of reaching our goals. Life happens. Sometimes it is good, sometimes amazing and often it is boring or super busy. And sometimes, life is difficult or depressing. I have an important shift in perception for you :) This is not life getting in the way; this is Life! We must come to accept that moving forward with our goals means moving forward while we Live our Lives, regardless of what is happening to us or around us. That means we must keep going no matter what. How? All you need is one thing: Awareness. Be aware of when you are losing focus or feeling overwhelmed. Feel your feelings! Consciously reaffirm your commitment to work towards staying on track. You will succeed and any lack of motivation will disappear. This mind set is crucial to success.
Here is another shift for you. The actual process of reaching goals is best approached with flexibility. You may take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. You may reach a standstill. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself permission to take a break! That is where awareness comes in. By making an assessment based on awareness that honors your personal needs, you can make an intentional choice to take a guilt free pause. Taking a time out from going full speed ahead towards a list of desired accomplishments is a healthy thing to do. You simply allow yourself to stop, and then pick up where you left off. This does not mean you allow yourself to relapse. It means you choose to slow down and give yourself a chance to reinforce the great changes and new habits you have made so far.
Maintaining your new habits, goals and accomplishments to date actually reinforces all those changes and secures them into your daily routine. If you have lost 5lbs, quit smoking, put money in a savings account or started drinking more water then hold those results steady. Again, taking a break does not mean relapse. Keep your current accomplishments going strong. A break means you maintain all of your great changes and celebrate your efforts to date while not pushing further ahead for the time being.
Take this time to reflect on how far you have come, how far you want to go and when you plan to start up again. This will help you focus and commit for the long haul and more importantly, prevents the ‘all or nothing’ mentality that leads to life long patterns of relapse and restart.
You have come a long way ~ Congratulations! Give yourself permission to stop, relax, enjoy, reward and regroup along your road to success. When you are ready to move happily forward on your journey to health, you will be refreshed, motivated and even more prepared after your well deserved break.
Keep going and KTQ!
Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Friends don't let friends Quit alone: