Don’t let a fear of gaining weight stop you from quitting smoking. Yes, some people do gain weight, but it’s not inevitable. The average quitter may gain 8 to 10 pounds after they quit smoking, and most of that tends to occur in the first six months. Why? The chemicals found in cigarettes can increase one’s metabolism, or the rate at which the body uses the calories in food, and when smokers quit, their metabolism may change. Plus, some quitters turn to food as a distraction from urges to smoke. And as their senses of taste and smell begin to return to normal, they may find that they enjoy food more. This, combined with a potentially slower metabolism, may result in weight gain.
But you can take action to help minimize any potential weight gain. Two keys to maintaining a healthy weight are to eat sensibly and exercise often. A healthy eating plan often includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, beans, nuts and fat-free or low fat dairy. Drinking the recommended amount of water may also help you maintain a healthy weight. Consider replacing high-calorie sodas or juices with a tall glass of H2O. And don’t forget to get moving. Walking and exercise may help relieve stress and maintain a healthy weight. Your lung function improves 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, so exercise may get easier. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen.
Finally, remind yourself to keep the big picture in mind. By making this positive lifestyle change, you are taking an important step in improving your health. As you overcome your addiction to cigarettes, you’ll have more time to pick up healthier eating and exercise routines instead!