Admittedly, smoking is a hard habit to kick, and statistics show that up to 80% of smokers who try to quit will start smoking once more. [1] So, if you’re on a journey to quitting smoking, kudos to you! The journey is not once short of challenges, but with the right support and advice, you will be able to kick this habit for good. 

Many people understand that smoking indeed has several negative impacts on both our external and internal life factors and can bring about detrimental health effects. Hence, people who have decided to quit smoking and currently maintain a ‘no smoking’ notion report that they are very happy with the change in their lives. 

However, quitting smoking is a daunting task, and some people experience side effects and nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, fatigue, headaches, and depression. Putting on extra pounds is yet another side effect of quitting smoking that often has people worried and demotivated when they’re trying to stop smoking. 

Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to mitigate that weight gain and make your journey a smoother one. Let’s explore some quitting smoking diet tips that may help you maintain a healthy weight!

Why Do People Gain Weight Following Smoking Cessation?

Weight gain after quitting smoking is a consequence that often is of great concern to the people who experience it. Some people even start questioning their decision once this happens.

The reason behind this could be attributed to all the substances included in the cigarettes that accelerate several bodily processes. This leads to an increased metabolism as well as burns the calories faster in a smoker than in a non-smoking person. [1]

Other than that, excessive weight gain could be attributed to several factors that work together in giving rise to this condition. Some of the factors that cause weight gain after smoking include:

  • Increased appetite,
  • Decreased physical activity, 
  • Decreased metabolism. 

All of these factors are only short-lived. As the body starts getting used to the new lifestyle, the weight and metabolism of the person get regulated, and therefore, they are finally able to press on in their journey without the looming fear of putting on excess weight. Also, don’t forget, the health benefits of quitting are far more beneficial than that of continuing smoking!

Tips To Avoid Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking

Thanks to research and experimentation, there are some quitting smoking diet tips to maintain your weight once you embark on your journey towards smoking cessation.

So, if you’ve noticed your waistline going a bit ‘out of line’ after beginning your smoking cessation quest, then these quitting smoking diet tips would come in handy in preventing weight gain!

Tip # 1: Replace Your ‘Smoke Times’ with Healthy Snacking Instead.

Quitting Smoking Diet Tips

During the journey to quit smoking, there would be several occasions where you would be reminded of your routine ‘smoke breaks.’ It would be during these times that you would want to smoke a cigarette to relax, unwind, and destress.

Therefore, in such times, try to replace those smoking breaks with other mindful activities, and no, binge snacking would not do any good for your waistline! While it’s tempting to turn to junk food to take your mind off cigarettes, try to replace those smoking breaks with healthy snacking instead! [2]

There are endless options of healthy snacks to choose from, some of which are low-calorie, too! Fruits, Greek yogurt, nuts, protein bars, energy date balls, cottage cheese, and oats can help you divert your attention from needing a cigarette and help you destress while you wallow in their delicious goodness!

Tip # 2: Eat Slowly and in Smaller Portions to Quit Smoking.

A dietitian often suggests eating meals from a medium-sized or small-sized plate than a larger one. This suggestion is usually put forward for people who are opting for a weight loss diet or want to achieve weight control, but it could work well in your case, too. [3]

Eating from a smaller plate will ultimately cause you to fill up your plate with half the amount of food that you normally consume. This practice will ensure that you are eating in small portions and that you would not mentally feel the need to fill up your plate again and again as you would already have a made-up image of having consumed a ‘full plate’ of food.  

Moreover, eating slowly while focusing on every morsel of food will also help you in achieving early satiety, which would once again help reduce your total calorie intake. This eating habit has tremendously helped people gain some control over their weight. 

Tip # 3: Keep the Alcohol Stock at Bay to Quit Smoking.

alcoholic drink

While you may consider drinking alcohol as an appealing option to de-stress and unwind for a little while, it can rack up your calories at an alarmingly high rate! 

What’s worse, you may ask? Alcohol can also weaken your willpower and cause you to forgo decisions that you might have already made—including quitting smoking. 

Therefore, it is better if you replace your alcohol glass with a glass of water—a drink that is nothing but outright healthy for you. Of course, a little alcohol never hurts anyone, but just make sure that it does not become a regular habit, as this can add to weight gain.

Tip # 4: Keep Your Goals Realistic.

When we want to accomplish something, it’s natural to set high goals. Most of us want to aim for the moon. But trying to quit smoking completely in one week is nowhere close to being a realistic, wellness-inducing goal. 

Instead, one should focus on planning realistically—start by slowly giving up your habit. 

This progression should be done in such a way that a person first reduces the number of cigarettes that they smoke in a day to half, then go on to smoke it every alternate day, to finally taking the big leap and going smoke-free for a whole week!

Making these small, realistic goals would not only help you quit smoking but would also heavily shift you towards a better life. By progressively quitting smoking, you would be helping your body by supporting it in learning the new pattern. 

This way, your body will gradually learn to metabolize according to the new dietary pattern and will not cause your body weight to increase suddenly! 

Tip # 5: Change Your Diet into a Balanced One.

While you are at it, why don’t you go the extra mile and focus on shifting your diet towards a healthier and better—balanced one?

You can easily do this by making sure that all important food groups—carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—are included in your diet in well-balanced portions. [4] 

Nothing more, nothing less than that. 

A healthy diet would not only help you in losing the extra pounds, but the focus and attention that you will put into planning your meals would definitely help you keep all your thoughts off needing a smoke!

Tip # 6: Make Sugar-free Gum Your Best Friend.

Quitting Smoking Diet Tips

Instead of going for gums that are nothing but packed with sugar, opt for sugar-free gum instead. These would not only save you from those dreaded calories but would also help you enormously in your journey towards smoking cessation. 

This is because chewing gum has been proven to improve attention as all your focus would be directed over chewing it (and also in whatever task you were doing at that time). So why not stock up on several packs to leave in your bag, car, office, and home. [5]

Bottomline: Preventing Weight Gain While Quitting Smoking 

You can always couple the above-mentioned quitting smoking diet tips with a healthy diet and regular exercise to kickstart your journey to quitting smoking while maintaining a healthy weight.

Also, keep in mind that it may take several tries before you’re able to kick the habit for good. Many people experience this, so don’t beat yourself up over it if you did not manage to attain your goals. Instead, seek support from your friends, family, and healthcare providers to boost your chances of success!  

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional

Editorial References And Fact-Checking

  • WebMD. (2014, March 14). Why It’s Hard to Kick the Smoking Habit. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20140314/why-its-hard-to-kick-the-smoking-habit
  • Reid, R. D., Pritchard, G., Walker, K., Aitken, D., Mullen, K. A., & Pipe, A. L. (2016). Managing smoking cessation. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 188(17-18), E484–E492. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.151510
  • Robinson, E., & Kersbergen, I. (2018). Portion size and later food intake: evidence on the “normalizing” effect of reducing food portion sizes. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 107(4), 640–646. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy013
  • Mozaffarian, D., Hao, T., Rimm, E. B., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2011). Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. The New England journal of medicine, 364(25), 2392–2404. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1014296
  • Smith A. (2009). Effects of chewing gum on mood, learning, memory and performance of an intelligence test. Nutritional neuroscience, 12(2), 81–88. https://doi.org/10.1179/147683009X423247
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Dr Andleeb Asghar, Pharm.D

Dr Andleeb is a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) graduate with real-life experience working in health and wellness-related companies. She has also published various research papers in the health and medical field. Currently, she takes joy in creating health-related content for a wide range of audiences, which is a craft she has been perfecting for over five years. She enjoys diving deep into published research papers and journal articles to source helpful content for her readers. LinkedIn

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  • Dr Andleeb is a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) graduate with real-life experience working in health and wellness-related companies. She has also published various research papers in the health and medical field. Currently, she takes joy in creating health-related content for a wide range of audiences, which is a craft she has been perfecting for over five years. She enjoys diving deep into published research papers and journal articles to source helpful content for her readers. LinkedIn

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Dr Andleeb is a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) graduate with real-life experience working in health and wellness-related companies. She has also published various research papers in the health and medical field. Currently, she takes joy in creating health-related content for a wide range of audiences, which is a craft she has been perfecting for over five years. She enjoys diving deep into published research papers and journal articles to source helpful content for her readers. LinkedIn