Smokin’ Food Substitutes
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29 September 2011
If you have given up smoking, weight gain is inevitable. Here are foods that will help you tackle withdrawal symptoms and extra kilos
Now that you have decided to finally quit smoking, it’s probably the biggest favour you’ve done your body. However, beware, the battle hasn’t ended there. One of the most common pitfalls of quitting the habit is immediate weight gain. So you might have to bear that in mind and work on a way to circumvent the problem before it gets out of control. The reason for this weight gain is largely because one’s appetite, dwarfed by nicotine until now, suddenly spikes and the urge to snack more, raises significantly. Smokers can finally taste and smell food better, something they couldn’t do earlier due to the aftertaste of tobacco. Incidentally, the food you consume to tackle the withdrawal also plays a crucial part in your recovery process.
Nutritionist Pooja Singhania says, “Smoking essentially is a habit related problem. When you quit, apart from the withdrawal, you also miss holding something constantly. So switch to healthy finger food such as apple slices, carrots, or celery to keep your fingers occupied and that will in turn help you overcome the habit.” A non-food related suggestion to ease out of this habit is to improvise holding a pencil or a pen in your hands while you drive or read to take your mind off it.
More often than not, it’s not what you eat or not eat that helps but more about how and when you eat. “So when you have just given up smoking, space out your meals. Have four to six small meals rather than three big ones. This manages your blood sugar levels and keeps you full,” says Singhania. Do not to skip breakfast, as you may end up snacking the entire day.
Foods that help
Try to include some form of high fibre starchy carbohydrate food such as wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, brown rice, potatoes and lentils, in each meal. This aids weight loss and will make you feel less hungry. Make sure you are eating large portions of vegetables in your diet, as it will fill you up easily without providing too many calories. Have antioxidant rich food such as oranges, grapefruit, spinach and strawberries. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water is also essential since dehydration further worsens withdrawal symptoms.
Foods that don’t
Singhania says, “Heavy meals and spicy foods such as mustard, vinegar, pickles, pepper, can increase smoking urges as well as other withdrawal symptoms. The exact scientific reasons for this are not known. Alcohol seems to be associated with the poor ability to think and reason and therefore may result in failure to stick to the decision to quit smoking or cause a relapse. Inadequate, sleep induces more stress and can increase smoking craving.” Mentally try and control the things you used to do that were usually accompanied by a s m o k e . Find healthier substitutes for the same and keep reminding yourself of your resolve to not smoke. Positive affirmation also goes a long way in boosting your morale through this trying period. Likewise, stay away from caffeine, as it is a diuretic and may cause dehydration. Caffeine increases the intensity of some withdrawal symptoms such as nicotine cravings, anxiety, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. Hence, coffee should be avoided completely.
Exercising is a great way to relieve the stress of withdrawal as it helps release feel good hormones called endorphins which will further aid your resolve to curb your urge to smoke. It will also make sure your metabolism is high and you are physically fit.