Quit Smoking Without Gaining Weight

Businessman Lighting a CigarMany smokers worry that they’ll gain weight if they try to quit. Some even use that concern as a reason not to quit.

That’s a bad idea for many reasons. Not every smoker who quits gains weight. Even those who do, he points out, gain on average just 4 to 10 pounds.

Indeed, for many ex-smokers, putting on a few pounds is healthy. Research shows that smoking actually makes some people unhealthily thin.

Still, if you’re worried, remember this: a few simple strategies can help limit weight gain while you kick the habit. Once you have successfully broken the addiction to tobacco, you can work on losing any weight you’ve gained.
Smoking and Metabolism

Research shows that nicotine from tobacco boosts the body’s metabolic rate, increasing the number of calories it burns. Immediately after you smoke a cigarette, your heart rate increases by 10 to 20 beats a minute. The unnatural stimulant effect of nicotine is one reason smoking causes heart disease.

When smokers quit, metabolic rate quickly returns to normal. That’s a healthy change. But if ex-smokers keep getting the same number of calories as before, they put on pounds.

Be Smart About What You Put in Your Mouth

When smokers quit, nicotine isn’t all they crave. They also discover that they miss the habit of lighting a cigarette and putting it to their mouths. Many smokers turn to food to satisfy this so-called need for “oral gratification.”

That’s fine if it helps you to quit. But by choosing low-calorie or zero-calorie foods, you can avoid putting on weight. Some smart alternatives include:

  •     Sugar-free gum
  •     Sugar-free hard candies
  •     Celery or carrot sticks
  •     Sliced sweet peppers
  •     Slices of jicama

Experiment to find which alternatives work best for you. Research shows that some smokers who quit experience a sharpened “sweet tooth.” They’re better off finding foods sweetened with artificial sugar. Some smokers really miss the oral gratification of smoking. They do best finding alternatives that require unwrapping something and chewing or sucking on it, such as sugar-free gum and hard candy.

Another trick is to brush your teeth frequently throughout the day. This can satisfy a passing craving for oral gratification. When your mouth is fresh and clean, you may have less of an urge to smoke.

Avoid Crash Diets

Choose healthy foods that are rich in nutrients and low in calories whenever you can. But experts advise against radical changes in how you eat. Quitting is tough enough without adding the stress of extreme dieting.

Be Realistic in Your Expectations

Many smokers do gain some weight. It’s fine to resolve to do everything you can to keep your weight down. But don’t make weight a make-or-break issue. “It’s important to tell yourself right at the beginning that it’s OK to put on some weight. Don’t be too tough on yourself.

Stay Busy

To distract yourself from the urge to smoke, fill your day with things to do that don’t involve eating. Physical activities — walking, gardening, doing chores — are a great choice. They burn calories, of course. And research shows that they also have a positive effect on mood. But any kind of distraction from the urge to smoke will help. Examples include:

  •     Watching a movie
  •     Attending a concert
  •     Going to the library to read
  •     Visiting a local museum
  •     Calling a friend
  •     Volunteering

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find smoke-free places to go these days. That trend has helped to make it easier for smokers to quit.

Talk With Your Doctor

A variety of products and medications are available that have been found to help smokers quit. Several also appear to help quitters keep weight off. In a 2009 review, researchers found that the antismoking drug buproprion and the antidepressant fluoxetine, as well as nicotine replacement therapies and cognitive behavioral therapy, helped limit the amount of weight that smokers gained while quitting.

Keep Your Health in Perspective

If you do gain extra pounds while you kick the habit, don’t let that derail your efforts. By quitting smoking, you can add years to your life — and years of being in good health rather than sick and disabled. Those extra pounds are a small price to pay. Once you’re tobacco-free, you’ll have plenty of time to get into shape and achieve a healthy weight.

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4 Diabetes-Friendly Desserts

A smiling man holding a cup of coffee in his kitchen(BlackDoctor.org) — A diabetes diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to eliminate sweets from your diet. But it does mean making simple substitutions when baking. Try these 4 decadent desserts that modify your favorite recipes into treats that fit your diet.

Black Forest Trifle

Who says you can’t have chocolate when you’re watching your sugar intake? Made with sugar-free chocolate-cake mix and instant pudding, this moist trifle will have your resident chocoholic licking her lips. Cool Whip trims the fat off traditional recipes and cherries add a boost of vitamin C and antioxidants, which are thought to reduce bad cholesterol.

Try this recipe: Black Forest Trifle


Cookies ‘n’ Cream Crunch

Don’t be fooled by this dessert’s sinful appearance. Made with sugar-free cookies and no-sugar-added ice cream, this dish can be made the night before a party and stored in the freezer. Sprinkling chopped pecans will add a nutty flavor and healthy monounsaturated fat.

Try this recipe: Cookies ‘n’ Cream Crunch

Fudgy Cream-Cheese Brownies

Using less than half the sugar of traditional brownie recipes, these tasty treats sneak in 1/4 cup of calorie-free sweetener. Reduced-calorie margarine and low-fat dairy products knock off an additional 15 grams of fat. If you’re serving these at a festive occasion, add a few drops of red food coloring to the cream-cheese mixture!

Try this recipe: Fudgy Cream-Cheese Brownies


Peanut-Butter-and-Jelly-Sandwich Cookies

Kids and adults alike will gobble up this PB&J in cookie form. Use low-sugar strawberry spread (we like Smucker’s low-sugar jelly) to keep the same fruity taste without spiking your blood sugar. Also try all-natural peanut butter, which is naturally low in sugar and full of iron and immunity-boosting zinc.

Try this recipe: Peanut-Butter-and-Jelly-Sandwich Cookies