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By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT
You are asking yourself if you could quit smoking without gaining weight. Let me guess.
Like many smokers, you may have kept on smoking in an attempt to control your weight. And now that you want to quit smoking, you want to know if you can quit smoking without putting on an extra few pounds. Am I right? If so:
In principle, the answer
is: Yes you can.
First, let me explain what I mean by ‘in
principle’. And after that, allow me to talk you through habits to
avoid, followed by habits to adopt to support you in the process.
So, what do I mean when I say that ‘in principle' you can.
Either you do, or you don’t quit smoking without gaining weight- right?
Well, not quite. Think about it, you are facing a double
challenge here. You want to quit smoking (number one), plus you are
concerned about gaining weight (number two).
When you are
looking to make big changes in your life, it’s very easy to overload
your system with too many demands at once. My advice is to take it step
by step. And to be mindful of your priorities as well as your
perspective in how you look at these two challenges. Getting the mindset
right will go a long way to helping you succeed.
Let me explain what I mean by getting your priorities and perspective right.
Let’s get this straight right at the start. Smoking is so damaging to your health that it is not a viable tool for managing your weight. Sorry for bursting that bubble.
In fact, smoking holds no benefit whatsoever. All it will do is spoil your looks, drain your finances, make you age prematurely and make you very, very ill.
You may not have any smoking related health issues yet. If so, take it as a blessing. In time, the health hazards of smoking would inevitably take their terrible toll. So, it’s the perfect time for you to quit, and you have made the right decision. You are putting the focus on your health. Well done!
If you haven't quit cigarettes yet, before you can even think about how to quit smoking without gaining weight, first do your research on the best method to quit smoking for you. There are a good few things to consider, such as:
quitting smoking is so important, is your number one priority, I will
advise you to change your perspective on weight gain a small bit here.
It’s important not to obsess over a few pounds, especially in the first
few weeks. I am serious! Bear with me and I will explain why.
first, to finish my point on mindset. My advice is to approach the two
challenges you are facing, to quit smoking without gaining weight, by
focusing on your health. Zoom in on your health. Let every decision you
make, and everything you do be determined by what is best for your
As you will see further down in this article, if you
keep the focus on your health, a lot of stuff will fall into place for
you. Decisions will become easier to make. Your overall goal will be
clearly spelled out. With a focus on your health, ultimately, it will be
so much easier for you to succeed with both challenges, all in good
Let me explain. In the next paragraph I will clarify why some early weight gain is likely to happen when you quit smoking, and how to deal with that so you can ultimately quit smoking without gaining weight.
You may have tried to quit before and gone back to smoking because you put on a couple of pounds in the first week after quitting. Let me explain to you what happened there.
The moment you stop putting around 400 dangerous toxic chemicals into your body with every puff of cigarette smoke, your body started healing.
You will have noticed feeling calmer and less stressed after quitting.
You will have noticed the smoker’s cough easing off, and breathing
becoming easier, along with many other health benefits of quitting
Alongside those developments, also, your metabolism slowed down a little
after you quit smoking. When your metabolism slows down, you don’t burn
as many calories as you did before. And when the calories are not
burnt, they will lead to putting on a small bit of weight.
Alongside this, you are no longer taking in toxic nicotine. One of the side effects of nicotine is that it suppresses your appetite. So, after quitting, you will have a healthy appetite once more.
These are three major reasons why weight gain happens when you quit smoking.
But, I would encourage you to change your perspective on this weight gain.
Is it really all bad?
Think about it.Try looking at this as a positive thing. Read on for some suggestions as to how to change your perspective here.
I have said it before and I will say it again, right now your main focus should be on quitting smoking. Get that right first.
Along with that, develop healthy habits, including healthy eating, and things will fall into place for you. Further down the page you will find practical advice on habits to avoid and habits to nurture so that you can quit smoking without gaining weight, in the medium term.
Know this: You might gain a few pounds in the first couple of months, but things will even off as you find your balance.
In the early days, changes in your body will occur rapidly. Then, the rate of change will slow down.
It’s really important not to obsess over this phenomenon of early weight gain. I would even say to put the scales away altogether for a few weeks initially. Just trust your body to find its equilibrium as you are going along making health focused decisions the whole way.
Reality is that a small bit of weight gain will in no way impact negatively on your health. You would have to put on a very large amount, 100 pounds or more to start reproducing even some of the negative health impact associated with smoking.
With the focus on your health, keep away from replacing smoking addiction with sugar addiction.
Some people drift towards eating chocolate or snack bars when they feel
cigarette cravings. If this is you, be gentle with yourself and at the
same time, steer away from sweets and sugary foods. Like smoking, they
have no benefit to offer you. Read further down the page for healthy
habits to adopt instead.
Some people start overeating after they quit smoking,
choosing junk foods such as deep fried and starchy foods. If you find yourself making this mistake, be
gentle with yourself. There is no point in
harboring harsh feelings (e.g. ‘I did wrong.’) or defeatist feelings (
e.g. ‘I’ll never get it right.’).
They will work against you.
Instead, recognize and acknowledge what has happened. At least you
didn’t go back smoking! Be gentle on yourself. Then, start making different, healthy choices
about your nutrition. Move on and act as if the glitch never happened. Get back to your plan to quit smoking without losing weight.
Following these four suggestions alone will go a very long way to helping you stabilize your weight.
It will take some determination to introduce healthy habits that help you quit smoking without gaining weight, but I believe you can do this.
Giving up tobacco requires huge determination. Smoking addiction is one of the most difficult addictions to break and you have done it. The reality is, once you have quit smoking, you can do anything!
Now that you put the focus in your life on your health, let’s keep it that way. Make healthy decisions in relation to everything you do. Here are some things you can start doing so you can quit smoking without gaining weight in the medium term.
A healthy attitude to adopt: Trust your body to find its own natural shape and size. Support this with healthy eating habits.
The first couple of months after you quit
smoking are not a good time to make major nutritional changes, such as going
vegetarian or vegan. When I mention fruit, veg, nuts and seeds, I am
suggesting you include them into your diet, not to replace any other foods, but to add valuable nutrition which is easy on calories.
in all, I will suggest you apply the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule states
that, typically, 80% of your results come from only 20% of your effort.
So when you want to quit smoking without gaining weight, think ahead to quit day and the days after. You know yourself best.
What will the big offenders be for you that may prompt weight gain? We are looking for the top 20 % of offenders here, the ones that cause most of the damage. These could be habits, or they could be foods.
Make a list, then make a plan for
how to deal with those big offenders. That alone will go a long way to
helping you quit smoking without losing weight. Combine this with
trusting your body to find its equilibrium.
Following the 80/20 rule will allow you to have a life while you quit smoking without gaining weight. And having a life is what it’s all about in the end, isn’t it?
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