5. Don’t worry about short-term weight gain.
Putting on weight is one of women’s major concerns when they’re quitting smoking, according to Hummel.
Weight gain usually occurs for two reasons, Hummel says. First, nicotine increases metabolism, which slows when you quit. Second, foods taste and smell better after you quit because nicotine dulls those senses.
“It’s a wicked combination,” Hummel says. “Average weight gain is 5-8 pounds. If women aren’t prepared, it can be very discouraging, and many go back to smoking because of it.”
The good news is that the situation is temporary. “Within six months to a year, your metabolism corrects itself, and the novelty of the improved taste and smell wears off,” Hummel says.
Still, “women have to give themselves permission to gain a little weight until they’re smoke-free,” Lieberman says. “They’ll lose the weight afterward.”
6. Get support.
“You know you’re going to have cigarette cravings,” Sederer says. “The question is, what are you going to do when they strike?”
Reach out for support, he advises – whether online, from a hotline, or by calling friends or family.
If you’re taking medication to help you quit, getting support doubles your chance of success, according to Hummel.
Every state has a “quit line,” some of which offer free coaching. You can call the national number, 1-800- QUIT-NOW, for the line in your own state.
“Someone who has training in tobacco cessation [will] give you tools to use every time you have a craving,” Saccocio says.
It’s also important to have a supportive social network, she says.
“You know [your friends and family] care about you and want you to succeed,” Saccocio says. “Having that kind of accountability can keep you in check.”
Also, make a list of phone numbers, including hotlines and supportive friends, that you can call when you’re alone and your mind begins to obsess about buying a pack of cigarettes, Sederer advises.
7. Avoid situations that make you vulnerable.
Certain conditions can make you more likely to give in to your urge to smoke. Doctors refer to them as HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
“For smokers, cigarettes are a solution to every stress and problem,” says Lieberman. “HALT are states that tend to weaken us and our ability to cope with stress.”
Of course, it’s impossible to avoid these conditions at all times. But if you recognize them, you can stop self-destructive behavior, Lieberman says.
Instead, deal with the problem at hand – eat if you’re hungry, rest if tired, get support when lonely, and find someone to vent to when angry.
Dehydration can trigger cigarette cravings just as it sets off food cravings, Hummel says. Your body wants something, and when you’re a smoker, that translates into a cigarette.
That’s why drinking plenty of water is crucial when you’re quitting smoking, he says.
Fluids also help flush toxins from your body.
“You’ve been collecting a lot of chemicals in your body during the years you’ve been smoking, and [drinking water helps you] excrete them in your urine,” Hummel says.
9. Never have “just one.”
Smokers often tell themselves a single puff will let them safely subdue cigarette cravings. But it actually makes them worse.
“They think they can handle it,” Voelker says. “But the truth is [smokers are] just one puff away from [smoking] a pack a day.”
Remember the basic rule of quitting: No matter what, don’t pick up a cigarette.
10. Don’t give up.
Statistically, you’ll need to quit 6-8 times before you’re successful, according to Voelker.
“It’s like riding a bike,” he says. “There’s no shame in falling down, as long as you get back up and try again.”
Slips are part of the process – each attempt actually increases your chances of success the next time, adds Hummel. So pay attention to what worked and didn’t, and don’t use a mistake as an excuse to start smoking again.
“You might try five times and tell yourself, ‘Forget it. I can’t do this,’” Lieberman says. “But you have to remember it takes a number of attempts. Eventually, you’ll be successful.”