1. Plan plan plan
If you’ve already chosen your quit date, you’ll have given yourself time to mentally prepare but you can also take advantage of this period to prepare physically too.
Try to remove any unhealthy temptations from your kitchen (we’ve all given in to that pack of cookies staring at us from the counter, right?!). Stock up on healthy food and snacks such as fruit & veg, nuts or some lightly salted popcorn.
2. Practice mindfulness
Slow down, chew your food well and focus on the act of eating, without any distractions (don’t be scrolling through Instagram while you eat your dinner). This will help to prevent overeating as you’ll be focused on savouring each mouthful.
Remember that it takes around 20 minutes for a meal to be fully digested, so you won’t necessarily be able to tell if you’re full until then.
If you are still having hunger pangs after the 20-minute mark, try drinking a glass of water or doing some light exercise to see if that makes any difference.
3. Get moving
Make the most of your increased stamina and clear airways by taking up a new activity. Physical activity will promote weight loss, decrease cravings and improve your mood (let’s face it, you might be a bit cranky) through the release of endorphins.
Cardio exercises — such as aerobics and running — are great for burning calories whilst strength training (i.e. workouts using free weights or your own body weight) increases muscle mass and thereby raises metabolic rate. Your best bet would be to incorporate a combination of the two into your fitness regime.
4. Pace yourself
Smoker or non-smoker, it’s always going to be hard coming to terms with the fact that you just can’t eat all the food all the time.
Control your portion sizes and try to remember that there will still be new things to try tomorrow…and the day after…and the day after that.
5. Get help from nicotine replacement therapy
Quit-smoking aids such as nicotine gums and patches not only help with the overall process of cessation, but have also been shown to reduce associated weight gain.
If you’re not experiencing nicotine cravings, it’s unlikely you’ll have the same urge to replace cigarettes with food.
6. Give yourself a break
You’re already taking on a challenge by deciding to quit smoking. It’s probably going to be up there with one of your best ever decisions, but it is going to take some perseverance.
Don’t overwhelm your body by obsessing about your diet at the same time. Doing so could leave you stressed or unhappy, which could lead you to eat more or even relapse into smoking.
The amount of weight we’re talking about here is pretty minimal, and can easily be shed once you’re at a stable point in your quitting programme. Plus, experts agree that gaining a few extra pounds does not detract from the health benefits associated with quitting smoking.
Nevertheless, if you can get one step ahead and prevent weight gain altogether — by careful planning, maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise throughout your journey — you’ll be onto a winner!