Managing weight gain as you quit
Do you really gain weight when you quit smoking?
It doesn’t happen to everybody, but gaining weight is a common side effect of successfully quitting smoking. On average, people who quit smoking will gain about six pounds.
But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to quit. Your physical and mental health, as well as your overall appearance and fitness level will improve when you quit smoking.
Why do people gain weight after quitting?
There are a few reasons why people might gain weight when they stop smoking.
- Food just tastes and smells better after quitting now that those senses are no longer dulled by cigarette smoke or chewing tobacco.
- The body can confuse nicotine cravings for hunger, causing people to eat more.
- People might snack more often to keep their hands busy and to distract themselves from smoking.
How to keep the pounds off
When you think about all the benefits to your mind and body that come from quitting smoking, don’t let the possibility of gaining a few pounds discourage you. Here are some tips to help you keep the weight off:
- Limit alcohol: Alcoholic drinks, especially beer, are high in calories. If you can cut down on evening or weekend drinking, you will see it reflected in your waistline. (Limiting alcohol might also help you avoid situations that make you crave a cigarette!)
- Plan your meals: Take some time to make a meal plan, this will help you control what you buy and, in turn, what you eat. With some of the money you’ve saved from quitting smoking, treat yourself to some new cookware and try out some exciting recipes. Do your best to stay away from fast food or frozen meals from the grocery store, since they are usually high in fat and salt.
- Snack Smart: It is a good idea to have a supply of healthy snacks in the house, like veggie sticks, fruit, or butterless popcorn. Before going for a snack, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” Sometimes we go for food when we are bored or feeling anxious. If this is the case, it is best to put away the food and get busy doing other things.
- Put down the pop: Sugary drinks like pop, energy drinks and juice are loaded with sugar and calories. Many pops contain high levels of caffeine too. By avoiding sugary drinks, you will avoid those extra calories and you might even start sleeping better. Try flavoured soda water – it has all the bubbles and none of the sugar.
- Get active: Take some of the money that you’ve saved to buy yourself a new set of golf clubs or some cross-country skis and enjoy time outdoors exercising with friends. Even 30 minutes of low-intensity activity like walking the dog makes a huge difference!
Want to talk to someone?
If you have any questions or want some more healthy tips, call the NWT Quitline 24/7 at 1-866-286-5099. Experienced health professionals are waiting to help you put together a plan to quit smoking!