Throughout the year, there are so many exciting occasions to throw a party – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and much more. What’s more exciting than the end of a sports season or a championship game? These athletic events are a great reason to get together with friends and loved ones, snack on game-day food, and root for your favorite team.
But note: these parties may present pitfalls for those who have recently quit smoking. Between alcohol, old smoking buddies, and unhealthy desserts, there are some aspects of parties that can trigger an urge to smoke. Luckily, there are ways to prepare that may help you score a smokefree evening – no matter what you’re celebrating!
Have a Plan
Like most aspects of your quitting journey, it’s good to have a plan for specific activities to help avoid urges to smoke. Before you go, make a plan of who you can call or text if you need encouragement, especially if they’re not going to be at the party with you. Bring items like gum, lollipops, healthy snacks like carrot sticks, and stress balls with you to keep your hands and mouth busy if you have an urge. Decide what time you plan to leave, and stick to it.
Avoid a Celebratory Drink
For some people who are trying to quit smoking, alcohol can be a trigger to smoke. Alcohol can also lower one’s inhibitions, making it harder to stick to your quit plan. Though it might seem that one drink at a party couldn’t hurt, it is a good idea to avoid the use of alcohol during your quit journey, as it can lead to slip-ups.
Instead, make yourself a tasty beverage with your favorite juice and sparkling water, or bring a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling cider to share. Let others know that you can be the designated driver – having this important responsibility may help other party-goers remember not to offer you a drink – helping you maintain your newfound smokefree state.
Stick to the Veggies
Some smokers fear gaining weight when they quit. The average weight gain is about 4-10 pounds – so you might want to limit excess sweets as you develop your healthy lifestyle. One study suggests that foods like fruits and veggies may make cigarettes taste less desirable for some people – an added bonus to help you on your quit journey.
While there may be a lot of unhealthy sweets and baked goods at the party, there’s often also a platter of cut vegetables (also known as crudité, if you want to be fancy.) Try snacking on that, and the fruit salad, instead!
Stay Inside and Make New Friends
It is possible that there will be other smokers at any party you attend. They might invite you to smoke with them. Before the soiree, practice saying in the mirror or with a friend “No thanks, I’ve quit smoking.” If you notice others going to smoke, stay in a smokefree location, such as inside the house, with other non- and former-smokers. Use the opportunity to meet new non-smoking friends, and see what you have in common. Maybe they’re the missing drummer in your band, or the perfect person to go to an art class with!
Bring a Friend
Of course, you can also invite a non-smoker or former-smoker friend to join you! If you weren’t invited with a plus one, make sure to contact the party host to check that it’s okay. Be open and honest and let them know how your wingman will help you stay smokefree over the course of the party.
Quitting smoking is a challenge – but according to a 2015 survey of 146 adult smokers who were trying to quit, 80% of them reported that support from others was very important to quitting successfully. Let your friend know how best to help you if you’re having an urge at the party. They can help distract you until the urge passes – perhaps by the next time your team has the ball!