Many people are worried they will gain weight as soon as they stop smoking. Even though this can happen for a variety of reasons it doesn’t have to be this way. With a bit of forward planning you can stop smoking without gaining weight?
Let’s have a look at some encouraging statistics first. Even though 4 out of 5 people will put on some weight while giving up smoking, many of them will lose those extra pounds about 6 months after quitting according to a study by the BMJ (British Medical Journal). It has also been found that just under 20% of people actually lost weight about 12 months after quitting.
Why can smoking cessation lead to weight gain?
Smoking has a variety of effects on our body. It speeds up your metabolism by about 10% which means your body uses more calories, making it easier to keep your weight down. So, when you stop smoking your body needs fewer calories to maintain your weight.
Smoking can also suppress your appetite; it dulls your senses. After giving up you will find that your sense of smell and your taste buds improve, and everything tastes better.
Nicotine cravings can often be mistaken for hunger or you might eat to distract yourself from the cravings.
Another issue is that smoking creates a hand-to-mouth habit which is frequently replaced by eating.
10 Tips to Help you Stop Smoking Without Gaining Weight
1. Plan ahead
Start thinking about how you’re going to manage your weight before you quit smoking. Plan when and how you’re going to exercise, what healthy snacks you’re going to have available and where to turn to when things get tough.
2. Exercise regularly
Exercising burns calories while you work out, but it also increases your metabolism. This means you keep burning calories for a long time after you’ve stopped for the day.
Doing exercise doesn’t have to be joining a gym. Find something you love doing; gardening, dancing, walking. Something you will keep on doing. Also, take the stairs instead of the lift, walk or cycle instead of driving everywhere. Simply become more active.
3. Eat smaller portions to improve metabolism
Consciously eat smaller portions but eat more of them throughout the day. Using smaller plates will make you eat less because there’s less to fit onto your plate.
Having 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 large ones can improve your metabolism.
4. Eat mindfully
Chew your food well and savour every little bite. Food will taste better because your taste buds are no longer under the influence of cigarettes, but this doesn’t mean that you have to eat more. Simply enjoy it more consciously.
By slowing down your eating, you will reach the magical 20 minutes more quickly after which our body tells us that we’re full. Listen to your stomach before automatically reaching for seconds. Do you really NEED more food because you’re still hungry or do you WANT more food because it’s so tasty?
Really concentrate on what you’re doing, so turn off the TV, sit down to eat at a table and focus on your food. How does it look, sound, smell, feel and taste?
5. Learn about meditation and relaxation
Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness can help to relieve stress and will make it less likely for you to fall off the wagon. It will also help you to avoid emotional and stress eating. You can find the space to allow you to choose how to respond to feelings and situations.
You can start with my 3 Minute Breathing Space Audio download. This could be the perfect introduction to mediation for you. Simply email me at email@example.com to receive the free audio download.
6. Drink lots of water
Drinking water will serve you well on so many levels. Being well hydrated is important for your generally health and wellbeing. Drinking a glass of water when you fancy a snack will help to fill you up. It will also help you deal with the hand-to-mouth habit that smoking has established in a healthy way.
7. Distract yourself from mindless snacking
Boredom can easily lead to mindless snacking so change what you’re doing. Why not find something you can do with your hands? Maybe take up a hobby such as knitting.
8. Have some healthy treats handy
If you don’t have temptation around the house, you won’t be able to give in. Instead, keep some healthy treats handy. These could be fresh fruit, dried fruits and nuts or veggie sticks. You want the right kinds of food within easy reach.
9. Find support
There are many quit smoking support groups online. I have one on Facebook. Some apps also come with built-in chat functionalities. You don’t have to go it alone. Find like-minded people and support each other through the difficult first few weeks and months.
10. Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Taking nicotine replacements regularly will help to suppress cravings and keep you focussed.
How the Live Well Practice Can Help
As a clinical hypnotherapist and mindfulness practitioner I have helped people stop smoking without gaining weight since 2010. If you would like to find out more how meditation, relaxation and mindfulness can help you reach your health goals, please get in touch. You can reach me, Samantha Culshaw-Robinson, on 075 222 777 22 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you would like to book in for a session, please fill in your contact details on my consultation page.
Disclaimer: As with most practices, mindfulness may not be suitable for everyone. If you have any existing mental health conditions or past trauma, you should discuss these with your GP or mental health professional and these should also be disclosed prior to enrolling in a class.