People who quit smoking often report that they gain weight in the first few weeks and months. If you are concerned that you’ll gain unwanted kilos after quitting smoking and those fears are one of the things that are preventing you from trying to quit, it’s time to address them head-on.
Understanding yourself is a good first step. Check out our ebook, “What is Your Smoker Personality” to learn more.
Weight consciousness is common among people who have recently quit or who are planning to quit smoking.
There are some very real reasons for weight gain after quitting smoking that you may not be aware of.
Nicotine, the ingredient in cigarettes that is highly addictive, is an appetite suppressant. People who quit smoking often feel hungry more frequently and require more food to feel “full” during the first few weeks after they quit smoking. Nicotine also speeds metabolism, so people who are in withdrawal as they quit smoking may gain some weight due to their slowed metabolism in the absence of this drug.
Many smokers see their smoke-breaks as a reward. They tend to step away from work to smoke or enjoy a cigarette on the way home from work at the end of the day. The act of smoking offers a mental and emotional break that is sorely missed when they quit, so they replace that type of support with eating.
The physical act of smoking (the hand to mouth motion) can be very pleasurable on its own, and many smokers find comfort in replacing smoking with eating popcorn, chips, or other small snack-type food that require a great deal of hand-to-mouth motion.
It’s possible to quit smoking without gaining weight
Many people who are considering quitting smoking worry that they will gain weight no matter what they do. For some smokers, this concern is so great that they’ll use it as an excuse to put off quitting.
First, it’s very important to understand that the health hazards of smoking greatly outweigh the health hazards of gaining a few kilos in the first weeks and months after quitting smoking. The dangers of smoking vary from person to person, but the list of problems is long and well known. According to the Cancer Council of Australia, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Australia, killing 15,500 Australians each year.
If you aren’t already eating a healthy diet, make small changes to help set you up for success as you try to quit smoking. Pay special attention to “hidden” calories in sugary drinks (that includes fancy coffee drinks) and fast food. Reducing the amount of processed food you keep at home and choosing fresh fruit and whole foods at the supermarket will help you make better food choices at home.
Many people don’t exercise, and smokers may find strenuous activity especially challenging and painful if they have difficulty breathing. Creating big fitness goals may seem tempting, but it’s much smarter to start small. Take a relaxed 10-minute walk during one break a day instead of smoking. Try this small change for a week and see how it changes your endurance and outlook. If exercise is boring, bring a friend or find an interesting podcast to keep your mind busy while your body is moving.
Recognizing fear of weight gain as a trigger is the first step to overcoming it
Smokers who understand the physical changes their body is going through as they quit smoking can be gentler with themselves on their “quit smoking” journey. Quitting smoking is a major undertaking and much support is required to become a success story.
Fear of weight gain is a trigger for many people who try to quit smoking. Understanding that this fear could cause relapse and even failure is the first step in overcoming it.
Your personality plays a major role in why you smoke which ultimately determines how, when, and if you will successfully become a non-smoker. To learn more about your personality type and the behaviours, and triggers associated with it, check out this free guide.