Have you been reconsidering your plans to quit smoking, because you are scared of putting on weight? Does giving up smoking actually make you fat? This article will answer these questions and help you deal with the issue.
Smoking is injurious to health, most smokers are well aware of the serious implications that smoking has on their health, thanks to many anti-smoking campaigns. However, most of them do not think they are at a risk. Some believe that smoking just once in a while cannot be so bad, after all. Also, some are certain that they will quit easily, after some time like – after they are over their break up, after they get married, when they want to have kids, after college and so on. When they finally decide to quit, they have second thoughts because they are scared of piling on pounds. Their worries are not baseless, giving up smoking can lead to weight gain in some people, however, there are ways to control it.
Smoking: The Appetite Killer
Smokers pick a cigarette, when others pick a snack. People who smoke may have experienced that they do not feel as hungry and can sometimes simply smoke when they are hungry. Also, in between meals, they smoke instead of eating something, even if they are hungry. Studies have shown that when there is nicotine in the system, a message is sent to the brain that the stomach is full. As a result, they are likely to end their meal with a smoke instead of a dessert.
What Causes Weight Gain After You Stop Smoking?
Among the people who put on weight when they quit smoking, the weight gain is about 5 to 10 pounds, in the initial months. However, this should not deter you from quitting. The causes of weight gain once you quit smoking are:
Lowered Metabolism Rate
Smoking increases the metabolism rate. There is an adrenaline rush, due to smoking, which causes the liver to release glycogen and increases the blood sugar level. When people stop smoking, the metabolism rate decreases tremendously, as a result of which they burn less calories than what they did while they were smoking. So, even if you eat the same amount of food as you did before, you are likely to put on weight. It takes a few weeks for the metabolism rate to get back to normal.
Improved Sense of Smell and Taste
It is also believed that once people quit smoking, their smell and taste enhances, as a result, there is increase in appetite. Even food items that may have not seemed so appetizing before are tempting and when they give in, they end up putting on weight.
Food as a Substitute for Smoking
When people quit smoking, they look for something else to do, something to do with their mouth and hands and the most natural replacement is food. It eases the withdrawal symptoms of discomfort and irritability. The same reason that makes them reach out for a cigarette, draws them to food, which is to relieve stress or simply pass time. There are more chances of opting for food items like sweets, chocolates, cold beverages and alcohol. This is because it increases serotonin, which is also released by nicotine intake and helps them feel relaxed. Food also helps get rid of boredom, that you may feel when you quit. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
How to Avoid Weight Gain After You Quit Smoking?
The following paragraphs will give you solutions to avoid weight gain after you quit smoking. And you will see the results, provided you follow them diligently.
This is the easiest way to avoid weight gain, after you quit smoking. Each time you feel like eating, drink water, it will help you deal with cravings. It will also help your metabolism rate, that has slowed down due to dehydration. In addition, it will give you an overall feeling of well-being and help you deal with withdrawal symptoms.
Maintain a Diary
Note down what you eat during the day, this will help you realize during what times of the day your cravings increase. It will help you distinguish between actual hunger and nicotine craving. If it is a nicotine craving, it will go within a few minutes. Eat only when you are actually hungry.
Choose Healthy Food
If you must eat, then you might as well eat healthy food. Have fresh fruits, fat free yogurt, green tea, low fat popcorn, low calorie snacks and a lot of vegetables. Create a schedule and have small portions of food throughout the day. Keep a check on consumption of sweets and beverages.
Begin to Exercise
It will help you burn calories that you may be putting on due to change in your metabolism rate. Also, it will keep you occupied, help you deal with lethargy and improve your mood. You do not need a heavy workout plan, brisk walking for even 30 minutes works just fine. You can swim, cycle or even play a sport of your choice, the idea is to do some physical activity.
Keep your Mouth and Hands Busy
Keep sugar free gums and candies with you; whenever you feel hungry, you can try chewing gum. Keep your hands occupied by writing, knitting or any other activity. Plan activities to get rid of boredom, for instance spend time reading a book, meet friends or check emails.
Plan your meals to avoid overeating and eat as slowly as possible. Chew every bite properly and enjoy the taste. As soon as you feel full, get up from the table and go for a walk. Instead of opting for a dessert after meals, have a fruit, or even better, just brush your teeth.
There are a lot of ways to beat stress, other than smoking and eating. You can take a walk, try meditation, yoga, or other hobbies like painting, playing a musical instrument, etc. A warm shower or soaking in a tub for some time can be highly beneficial. Confide in friends and take their help to relieve tension. If you find it very difficult to deal with stress, do not hesitate to join support groups or seek medical help.
Most importantly, do not panic, be good to yourself. There are millions of people who are trying to quit, consider yourself a winner, as you have succeeded in quitting smoking. It is not a big deal if you put on a few pounds. Smoking is way more unhealthy; a few pounds are easier to get rid of than the dangerous habit. Making some lifestyle changes will help you deal with the weight issue. Be positive and take good care of yourself.