Quitting smoking is a great idea. Apart from the health benefits, you may save yourself quite a bit of money. However, quitting smoking is not easy—your body can develop physical and emotional dependencies on nicotine. While nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) and other types of medication may help you manage your cravings, there are also some dietary changes you can make to help you quit smoking successfully.
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Consider nicotine replacement therapy.
- The benefits of nicotine replacement therapy include:
- Nicotine replacement therapy can help reduce withdrawal symptoms such as depression, irritability, restlessness, insomnia and anxiety.
- It can also help control cravings and improve concentration.
- Where to get nicotine replacement products: Many pharmacies carry a range of products that can be used in conjunction with the smoking cessation program you’ve embarked on. You may need a prescription to get some forms of nicotine replacement therapy. Your doctor or pharmacist will explain how they should be used correctly and safely.
- How to use nicotine replacement products correctly: Some products (such as gum) are meant to be chewed when you have a craving for tobacco, while others release nicotine slowly throughout the day (such as patches). Make sure you know how each product is meant to be used so that you are getting the most out of it and not wasting money on something that won’t work for you.
There are some people who should not use these therapies and others who need extra caution when using them – so do check with your doctor if any apply:
Plan your meals.
- Plan your meals. Start by making a list of your favorite foods and look for healthier versions.
- Choose foods that are tasty and nutritious. Many healthy foods are described as “low-fat” or “low-sugar.” These terms can mean the food has:
- Less than 3 grams of fat per serving for low-fat foods
- Less than 9 grams of sugar per serving for low-sugar foods
- When you’re thinking about how to plan a healthy diet, it’s important to include all food groups in the right proportions. Include fruit and vegetables at every meal, plus daily servings from the milk group, meat group and bread group. For example, if the recipe uses 1 cup (250 mL) 2% milk, replace it with 1 cup (250 mL) skim milk or soy beverage. If sugar is listed as an ingredient, reduce it by one quarter or more in baking recipes. See Healthy eating tips for people with diabetes for more information on eating healthily with diabetes.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
When you smoke, the chemicals you inhale are absorbed into your bloodstream and sent to every organ in your body. This includes your brain, heart, and lungs. It also includes important organs like your liver that help detoxify poisons from your blood. When you quit smoking, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is an essential way to boost these organs’ performance, helping them do their job more efficiently. If a healthy diet wasn’t a priority before quitting smoking, it should be now.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will give you many health benefits, but some are particularly helpful when quitting smoking. Studies have shown that smokers with low levels of several different vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables often have more trouble quitting than smokers who eat enough of these nutrients. These nutrients include vitamins C E B6 and K as well as folic acid beta carotene iron magnesium selenium zinc fiber potassium copper and thiamin (vitamin B1). Smokers also tend to have lower levels of antioxidants which are plentiful in fresh fruits and vegetables (as well as tea coffee chocolate red wine certain spices certain herbs nuts seeds seeds beans whole grains fish eggs poultry dairy products legumes mushrooms soy products shellfish meats organ meats). Antioxidants protect cells from damage due to free radicals which occur naturally when oxygen is burned for energy or during exposure to environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke or chemicals in the air water or food.
Get your B vitamins.
Your body needs B vitamins to metabolise the carbohydrates in your food and to help you feel satiated. According to Harvard Health Publications, nicotine can affect the way your body uses B vitamins, so getting plenty of foods rich in vitamin B may help reduce cravings. Some of the best sources of vitamin B are chicken and turkey (which also have tryptophan that make you drowsy), fish, eggs and dairy products. Bonus: these foods are all healthy choices anyway!
Avoid junk food.
Stay away from junk food. When you quit smoking, you’ll want to eat more. Avoid junk food as much as possible, since it will cause weight gain. Instead, buy healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts that are easy to carry around and snack on during the day.
Start an exercise program.
Study after study has shown that exercise can help you deal with stress and nicotine cravings, relax, sleep better, avoid weight gain, and feel better about yourself. All these factors make it easier to stay smoke-free.
If you haven’t been physically active in a while, start with something easy on your body, such as walking or swimming. If you don’t want to exercise on your own at first, join a class or find an exercise partner.
Before starting any physical activity program, ask your doctor if there are exercises you should avoid because of health concerns.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but a healthy diet can help support you in the process.
The first thing you should know about quitting smoking is that it’s not easy. The second thing you should know is that a healthy diet can help you quit.
If you’ve been smoking for a long time, your nicotine cravings may be so intense that they consume your entire life. You may even experience withdrawal symptoms when the cravings skyrocket and you haven’t had a cigarette in several hours. This is because nicotine acts on receptors throughout the brain and body to regulate mood, energy level, and appetite.
Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to humankind; its effects are more powerful than those of cocaine or heroin.