The average weight gain for those that quit smoking is 9-11 pounds, most of which occurs in the first 12 months of having put down the addiction. About 69% of weight gain appears to be due to simply consuming more calories during the first three months after cessation. The remaining effect is largely due to a complex interaction of metabolic factors that change the body's natural weight "set point."
Let's face it, the long-term health consequences of smoking are worse than a few extra pounds. While keeping your weight in check is certainly important to your health, allowing the fear of a little weight gain undermine your attempts to quit smoking is counterproductive.
You can't control the metabolic factors associated with nicotine. It operates to suppress appetite and raise your metabolism since it is a stimulant. Instead, put your focus on getting free of nicotine once and for all, while doing your best to mitigate weight gain during smoking cessation.
Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Add Exercise – Exercise not only helps you burn the extra calories you are likely to be eating, but it also increases your chances of quitting successfully. In addition, exercise is also likely to increase your mood and help deal with the anxiety and/or depression that can be a part of quitting.
- Wait Out Food Cravings – The desire to eat more often is common for quitters. Be aware of the cravings and to try to wait them out. Set a timer for 10 minutes when you notice a food craving. If you still have a strong desire to put something in your mouth, make a healthy choice.
- Stock Up on Healthy Snacks – Part of being prepared for the inevitable food cravings that come with quitting smoking is to stock up on satisfying healthy snacks. Examples include nuts, fresh vegetables and fruits, low-fat yogurt, and plain popcorn. Be sure to get both sweet and savoury snack items on your shopping list.
- Alternative Oral Stimulation – For many of us, the smoking addiction has become synonymous with an oral fixation. For many ex-smokers, substituting a non-food oral stimulator was a vital part of putting down the habit. Examples include using toothpicks, sugar-free gum, or straws cut into cigarette lengths.
Remember, quitting smoking may be the most important health decision of your life! To learn more about the QSN® Stop Smoking Program, contact us for more information.