Weight gain is an unfortunate side-effect of quitting cigarettes. The problem is that smoking causes a chemical reaction in the body that causes it to release sugar. When you quit the body takes a while to adjust to the changed circumstances. As a result of which the body’s sugar levels decline.
Translating these facts into weight gain terms, it means that you are likely to not only eat more but also consume more sugary foods, to make up for your low sugar and consequently low energy levels.
The obvious question now is, can you avoid this undesirable side effect of quitting smoking? Well, you can, if you take the following precautions-
Eat healthy sweets
Yes, you read it right! Even sweets can be healthy; remember those mineral loaded things called fruits? Fruits contain natural sugar (that doesn’t carry too many calories) and fiber. The advantage of adding fibrous foods to your diet is that they can make you feel fuller, thus preventing you from eating too much. High fiber diets in fact are also good for digestion.
What’s more eating citrus fruits will help in making up for your body’s vitamin C deficiency (caused by cigarette smoking), thus improving your immunity as well as skin.
Satiate your hunger cravings with salads and crunchy raw vegetables
Vegetables and salads are filling, fibrous and full of nutrients; eating green leafy salads or raw veggies like cucumber and carrots whenever hunger pangs strike is therefore a good idea.
Avoid Junk Food
Whenever you feel hungry you are most likely to be drawn to junk food. After all fried food and sweet candies do have their charm. But the fact is that their charm can get you in trouble. As it is, you are likely to eat more when your sugar levels are low, if you eat junk food, you’ll simply be piling on calories. It therefore makes sense to keep your home or immediate environment junk food free, so that even if you get tempted, you have no option but to eat healthy.
Reduce your alcohol intake
Just because you have quit one poison, doesn’t mean you should replace it with another. Limit your drinking to social occasions, if you want to avoid the post-quitting weight gain. Alcohol comes loaded with calories and excess consumption is known to lead to water retention and bloating.
One of the side effects of cigarette smoking is a weakened metabolism. While you continue to smoke the effects do not show as much as cigarettes tend to kill your appetite. However, when you quit and start eating normally again, you are likely to suddenly gain weight because of your slow metabolic rate. Regular exercise can help you combat this side effect. Exercising, especially lifting weights helps in building our lean muscle mass, which in turn has a positive effect on the metabolic rate.
If you have been smoking for years, you may not be able to exercise much initially. So, it would be a good idea to build your stamina by incorporating 15-20 minutes of physical activity in your routine and gradually going up.
Eat several small meals
Instead of eating in one go, you should try and eat small portions at regular intervals. The idea is not to go hungry for long periods of time. This will not only help you avoid overeating but will also boost your metabolic rate.
Weight gain is not a foregone conclusion of quitting cigarettes. You can stay slim even after you give up cigarettes by adopting a disciplined and healthy lifestyle. Good Luck!