Smoking cessation promises several health benefits. We have even previously recommended its health benefits in our piece “How to Strengthen Your Immune System”. However, quitting smoking has one possibly unwanted side effect: weight gain. In fact, a 2016 study published in Obesity (Silver Spring) titled “The Effect of Tobacco Cessation on Weight Gain, Obesity, and Diabetes Risk” found that it can even cause you to develop other chronic conditions. But this should not discourage you from quitting smoking. There are ways to deal with weight gain after quitting smoking. Here’s how:
Quit over time with nicotine aids
Smoking is a habit many replace with eating. As such, sudden withdrawals can lead you to consume too many calories. In this case, smokeless nicotine alternatives can help you gradually quit smoking and prevent you from turning to food as a replacement.
One alternative you may like is the nicotine pouch. This is placed between the gum and upper lip, where it then releases nicotine into the bloodstream. Prilla adds that the top nicotine pouches contain simple ingredients. Among these are tobacco-derived or synthetic nicotine, sweeteners, and plant fibers. Simple ingredients like these won’t cause unwanted side effects similar to smoking. These pouches come in varying strengths, and so you can lower the strength of the pouches you use over time.
For non-oral alternatives, you can try the nicotine patch. We’ve noted in our Slim Diet Patch review that nicotine patches work like transdermal weight control patches. Stick it onto your skin and then the patch will release nicotine over the course of 24 hours. Like nicotine pouches, patches also come in varying strengths that you can decrease over the weeks.
Use healthier coping mechanisms
Aside from using nicotine aids, there are other healthy ways of coping with cravings and withdrawals. Breathing exercises, for one, help you manage the stress from quitting smoking.
A study published in Journal of Women’s Health finds that Vinyasa yoga, in particular, can help you reduce the jitters that come with smoking withdrawal. This type of Hatha yoga engages you in an intense sequence of poses that require you to focus especially on your breathing. The study explains that as you focus on your breath, you gain more control over your body’s sensations such as craving cigarette or food.
Another method is chewing healthy snacks to distract your brain from the urge to smoke. It’s important to keep the snacks nutritious and sugar-free. Opt for nuts, carrot sticks, or sugar-free mints to prevent weight gain.
Plan and cook your meals
By planning and cooking your own meals, you gain more control over the portions you consume. It also makes it easier for you to avoid unhealthy foods or cigarettes as you look forward to a meal planned for later. To help you start, there are meal prep apps like PlateJoy, Eat This Much, and Mealime that generate grocery lists and even suggest recipes based on your favorite foods.
Burn calories with exercise
Quitting smoking slows down your metabolism. To combat this, replace it with an active lifestyle. Certified personal trainer Jake Tipane suggests exercises that increase your heart rate. These will give you the best calorie-burning results. Opt for running, jump roping, swimming, and other activities that can burn hundreds of calories.
Having to struggle with weight gain on top of quitting smoking can be challenging. With tips that guide you towards healthier habits, weight gain should no longer be an obstacle to quitting smoking for good.