Find out more!

join-our-community  

The Quit Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Avoiding Weight Gain When Quitting Smoking

  
  
  

Avoid weight gain after quitting smokingA fairly common experience when quitting smoking is coming to the realization that clothes are fitting tighter and the pounds are adding on. The dreaded weight gain associated with quitting smoking is often the cause cited in a smoking relapse, and discourages many smokers from attempting to quit in the first place.

Though weight gain may happen (average 5-10 lbs) it's not unavoidable. Understanding the reasons for the related weight gain, along with integrating diet and exercise as part of the quit plan, helps prevent and reverse weight gain after quitting smoking.

          Reasons For Weight Gain 

  • Nicotine is a stimulant and suppresses appetite along with slightly increasing metabolism. Many times smokers will light up to curb their hunger, delay a meal, or manage their weight. Some smokers replace a meal with a cigarette and beverage, which lowers calorie intake. Smoking dulls the taste buds and sense of smell, so when smokers quit they often find they are hungrier, that food tastes and smells better, and that they don't want to skip a meal. This adds up to a body taking in more calories while lowering the speed at which they are burned.

  • Nicotine withdrawal can cause food cravings. Foods containing sugar, fat, and salt curb the craving for nicotine. Usually these foods are processed and high in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. This type of food is often considered a comfort food. Smokers may find that after quitting they are reaching emotionally for comfort food the same way they reached for cigarettes, rewarding themselves with food to feel better when they are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

  • The physical act of smoking a cigarette requires approximately ten inhalations. That's about two hundred times a day (1 pack/day) a smoker puts a cigarette to their mouth and inhales. Many quitters miss the oral satisfaction of smoking and replace the cigarettes with food. This oral substitution can add up to a lot of nibbling on snacks and treats.
  • Sleep loss due to withdrawal causes tiredness that reduces the motivation to get up and out to exercise. Sleep deprivation is stressful on the body and increases hunger-stimulating stress hormones which boost appetites. 

     Avoiding Weight Gain - Include Diet and Exercise in the Quit Plan

  • A healthy diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and foods low in fat and cholesterol. Don't overeat. Even too much healthy food will cause weight gain. It's the calories that matter in weight gain and loss. Calories are calories, whether they are nutrient rich or empty.

  • Eat slowly and enjoy the food. Practice mindful eating. Put the fork down between bites and become aware of the taste, smell, touch and texture of the food being eaten. It may take 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full. Then it's time to stop eating.

  • Drink lots of water. Water hydrates, fills your stomach and reduces hunger -- along with any cravings to smoke. Placing ice in the water increases metabolism and burns calories.

  • Don't wait until you are very hungry to eat. At that point you may give in to fast food or poor food choices. Be prepared and have a healthy snack on hand, such as carrot or celery sticks, an apple, pretzel or air-popped popcorn.

  • Watch your portion size. Sight is also involved in determining when we feel full, so use smaller plates and drinking glasses; if the plate is viewed as full the tummy feels full. Fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with whole grains, and a quarter with lean protein. Don't deny yourself a treat. Variety is the spice of life.

  • Have a plan on how to cope with food cravings when they hit. Food cravings are associated with weight gain. Food cravings are not from being hungry. A craving is a strong desire to obtain a reward -- in this case eating food for the pleasure of it. If you are reaching for food when stressed, lonely, sad, etc., address the issue and consciously replace the desired food with something else. Examples: When lonely, call a friend. When stressed, meditate. If bored, go for a walk; it helps to distract from the craving and burns calories.

  • Include physical activity in your daily schedule. Physical exercise not only boosts metabolism, improves sleep quality, and burns calories, but also releases 'feel good' endorphins in the brain that help reduce stress, depression, and cravings to smoke. Of course, overall health, including medical issues, needs to be considered before starting any new exercise program, so get a physician's nod of approval. 

  • Choose physical exercises that you enjoy and look forward to doing. If you like to run, go jogging. If dancing is your thing, join an aerobic dance class. If you find walking 30 minutes a day fits better in your schedule, then go for it. It's the consistency and regularity that matters.

  • Little things add up. Increase your daily steps by parking the car further away from your destination. Take a walk during your lunch or dinner break at work. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.

Focusing on these realistic diet and exercise changes when quitting smoking helps to avoid the pitfall of gaining excess weight. Quitting smoking, being physically fit, and maintaining your weight by eating healthfully promotes self-care and feelings of well being. Keep in mind that the health benefits of quitting always outweigh any health risks associated with weight gain.

Keep Going and Keep the Quit!

BetteQ, CTTS-M

 

Visit Our Free Support Community

Comments

Great article, very true. Interesting that adding ice to water boosts metabolism, I always drink water in a glass filled with ice. I have noticed being hungrier since quitting smoking on 2/25, gained 4 lbs. in 2 weeks. Started on the treadmill 1/2 hour a day. I feel so much better since quitting, thanks for your blog.
Posted @ Friday, March 28, 2014 11:31 AM by pam
So true, gained 7 lbs in 10 weeks, now on the threadmill 4 times/week for 45 mins. I just look forward to eating, simply because i no longer look forward to smoking. great article.
Posted @ Friday, March 28, 2014 5:12 PM by Barbara
Love the advice! Have been quit going on to 3 weeks
Posted @ Saturday, March 29, 2014 9:51 AM by Betty Anne Eisler
I just signed up to quit smoking today and I am nervous about weight gain. Thanks to this article, am going to make a list of healthy small snacks to have on hand. Hopefully that helps.
Posted @ Monday, March 31, 2014 2:37 PM by Jessica
I started smoking again after quitting for 6 months after a lot of health issues. I have worked on losing weight and have achieved my goal. Now I'm going to quit smoking again so afraid that I'm going to gain weight. My health is more important and quitting smoking is a must. I'm hoping by joining quit net again I will stay the course.  
 
 
 
Posted @ Monday, April 14, 2014 10:08 AM by Debbie Young
I am doing a program to quit smoking and have actually lost 5 lbs in the first 3 days of the program. you need to make sure you are eating clean as well as taking additional supplements to replace all of the nutrient that nicotine had been stripping from your body. I actually quit the coffee too. take care of your bodies. you wont get a replacement
Posted @ Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:59 PM by KBrown
Gained 30 lbs since I quit smoking 10 months ago. Also having health issues since I quit. I am tired and not motivated at all to spend the few moments I have with my family, on a treadmill. The thought of resuming smoking has crossed my mind to lose the weight but I surely don't want to go thru this withdrawal all over again.
Posted @ Friday, May 02, 2014 5:40 PM by Julie
I feel the same as Julie. I must be going throw the withdrawal stage. I have gain weight just this 
week. If I had known 47 years ago what I know today I would not started. Quitting is so difficult.
Posted @ Friday, May 02, 2014 6:20 PM by Ledora Jenkins
It is tough to quit and not gain weight, but exercise does help, lots of water, iced tea unsweetened, and not thinking about having a smoke. I just realized whenever I want a smoke and don't have one I get hungry. I haven't had a cigarette since 2/25/14, it's still tough, but I'm getting a lot of support from my 2 boys ages 40 and 42 who have wanted me to quit for a long time, neither of them ever smoked. Every day is still a challenge, but when I look at how much I've saved in money and how many day's hours I've added to my life, I realize it's so worth it and I wish I wouldn't have waited until I was 65 to quit. Keep on quitting!!
Posted @ Saturday, May 03, 2014 2:05 PM by dog lover 48
It is very true that its not easy to quit smoking as it makes many changes in your body and weight gain is the matter of concern but its for some time after that you will become fit and fine its just that you follow daily workout plan exercises and proper diet.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 08, 2014 1:12 AM by amy
Thank for the advice, Quitting is so difficult.
Posted @ Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:51 AM by TreadmillQC
I quit again hope for the last time on Sept 10th 2014 I know I gained but I don't stink all I need us to get motivated to exercise and I do feel depressed and no energy not a very nice feeling
Posted @ Saturday, September 27, 2014 7:06 PM by Solange Diano
Post Comment
Name
 *
Email
 *
Website (optional)
Comment
 *

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics

Subscribe via E-mail

Your email:

Follow Me