Are you avoiding stubbing out cigarettes for good because you’re afraid of weight gain? If so, consider this: On average, people gain about 5 pounds after they quit — and most people gain fewer than 10. Some don’t gain weight at all. But all of them gain a healthier body and healthier outlook.
Use these tips from Cleveland Clinic’s Tobacco Treatment Center to put away the pack without packing on pounds.
Eat regular meals and healthy snacks
Nicotine causes spikes in excess sugar and tricks the body into thinking it has eaten. When you kick the nicotine habit, your body feels hungrier than ever, so keep it full the right way. If you’re hungry between meals, snack on fresh veggies, fresh fruit or popcorn, and complement your snack with a large glass of water.
Walk or exercise at least 30 minutes each day
Nicotine increases your body’s metabolic rate temporarily. Once you quit, it returns to normal. Boost your metabolism by engaging in physical activity. Starting (or maintaining) an exercise plan is just as important as any other piece of the smoking cessation process.
Start a new post-meal ritual
Many smokers have a cigarette after a meal, which signals your body that the meal is over. You may need to create a new “signal” that tells your body it’s OK to stop eating. Try walking around the block, meditating for five minutes or even brushing your teeth.
Keep your mouth busy
Ex-smokers often say they miss having something to do with their mouths and hands. After quitting tobacco, the need for oral gratification can be replaced too easily with food, so develop a positive substitute instead. Chew on baby carrots or celery. Or keep your mouth busy while getting a dental boost by using dental picks. As a bonus, you’ll remove the hard-to-reach plaque between your teeth.
Don’t get discouraged
Even if you do gain a few pounds, the health benefits of quitting tobacco will outweigh them. Plus, once you’re off nicotine, you can better focus your attention on making other positive lifestyle changes such as portion control and exercising daily, which will help you meet your weight goals.