Monday, July 16, 2012

Quit and Stay Fit!

Smoker? Thinking of quitting? Then this idea is definitely running through your mind:

“I’m going to gain weight!”

And believe it or not, this fear of losing your shape can create -and often does- an obstacle to those trying to quit smoking.
Is it a well-placed fear? Can weight gain be avoided?

1. Why should quitting affect your weight?

It is true that quitting smoking can make you gain some extra pounds. In fact,


- Depresses the appetite for certain foods. This effect is no longer available when you quit.
- Provides a substitute activity for eating.
- Increases the passage of food through the lower digestive tract by increasing the propulsive activity of the colon. In consequence, some food is excreted before all the nutrients are absorbed.
- Marks the end of a meal. So instead of sitting at the table bingeing, smokers light a cigarette.

Quitting smoking makes you

- Feel hungrier and are prone to eating more than usual.
- Tend to have more snacks: in order to replace the urge to smoke, you might consume more high fat, high sugar snacks as well as alcoholic beverages.
- Burn less: smoking increases your metabolism. So, once you quit, the latter goes back to normal. You start to burn slightly fewer calories on a daily basis.

2. How worried should you be about your weight

Even though almost every person who quits smoking gains weight, this issue should not be a primary concern. In fact,

- The weight gain is no more than 4 to 5 kg for 90% of quitters.
- The quality of food you snack on can be modified in order to prevent weight gain.
- A lower metabolism is not such a big deal compared to heart, lung and other diseases.

Let’s say the benefits of quitting outweigh the hassle of losing the weight gained.

3. How can we prevent the weight gain?

It is very important to know that the main goal is to STOP SMOKING. You can worry about the weight gain at a later stage.  The frustration of having to focus on both your body shape and its health is too much to handle. However, there are simple small steps you can take in order to minimize as much as possible the weight gain.

- Have several (5-6) small meals. Choose smaller plates. They can help you control your portions and still feel like you’re eating as much as you used to.
- Eat slowly. Try to be the last one done.

- Take smaller bites. Chew and swallow each bite before taking the next. Become aware of the taste and texture of your food.

- Don’t allow yourself a second plate. In fact, you were used to having your cigarette after finishing your meal. And without it you might be prone to eating more. This is why you should leave the table as soon as you’re done.

- Pick a non-smoking activity to signal the end of the meal: take a walk, brush your teeth, do the dishes, take a shower, have a breath mint, etc.

- Make a wiser choice of snacks: instead of high sugar high fat food, go for fruits and vegetables, yoghurts, cereals and cereal bars, etc.
- Have drinks that you wouldn’t normally smoke a cigarette with. Skip the coffee and the alcohol and focus on fresh juice, water, diet sodas, etc.

- Take a walk instead of a coffee break.

- Keep at your reach sugar free gum or hard candy to satisfy your cravings with low calorie items. Eat only one piece of candy or gum at a time and try to make it last in your mouth as long as possible.

- Physical activity is of a high importance when it comes to quitting smoking. Besides the fact that it can help you breath better and release your stress; it can help you maintain your weight by losing extra fat through aerobic activities and increasing your metabolism through weight training.

- Always have the support of family and friends to keep you away from the cigarettes and the food.

Finally, you should consult with a professional for a more personal approach.

If you were effectively reconsidering quitting smoking because of the weight gain, I hope this article has given you enough reasons not to! So go ahead, pick your quit day and go for it!
Good luck!


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