If you’re thinking about quitting smoking or are just starting your journey, you probably have some concerns around gaining a few extra pounds in the process. Unfortunately, it is possible to gain weight after quitting, particularly within the first year (with most people averaging five to 10 extra pounds). Quitting smoking is imperative for your overall health, so here’s how to do so without seeing the number on your scale go up.
Turn to Exercise When You’re Feeling Stressed
Some people who smoke do so when life gets stressful. But if you exercise instead during those tense moments, it will not only help you avoid cigarettes and possibly reduce the urge to smoke, but you’ll also burn calories while you’re at it. The best part? You don’t have to change into gym clothes for your mini workout — it can be as simple as heading up and down a few flights of stairs or putting on a song and dancing for a couple of minutes. Whatever movement you can do to take the edge off works.
Keep a Healthy Snack on Hand
One of the main reasons people gain weight when they quit smoking is because the nicotine in cigarettes speeds up your metabolism. Another reason for the added pounds? Cigarettes can decrease your appetite, so when you stop, you may feel hungrier. To avoid reaching for junk food when your stomach starts growling, try snacking on low-calorie foods that will keep you busy and fill you up, like baby carrots, celery sticks, pistachios (which take a while to crack open), or apple slices.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
Logging too few hours of sleep puts you at a greater risk of weight gain. Not only that, but a lack of sleep can make you feel more stressed and many people cope with stress by smoking. So make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep.
Deal With Oral Fixation
It might feel strange not to have that feeling of a cigarette in your mouth. If that’s the case for you, skip the calorie-laden chips or chocolate, and consider chewing on something like sugar-free gum when you have the urge.
Create New Healthy Habits
Did you enjoy smoking and talking with your co-workers when you needed a break from work? You can still connect with them, just change the scenarios around a little! For example, invite your closest friend to take a walk with you around your office during lunch, or grab a cup of unsweetened tea in your break room and stand around for a while chatting. Just because you’re taking cigarettes out of the equation, doesn’t mean your meaningful relationships have to go out the door, too!