Smoking And Weight Gain

If you’re thinking about quitting smoking, you may be concerned about possible weight gain. When you quit smoking, however, weight gain doesn’t have to be inevitable. Like smoking, diet affects weight, so if you establish a healthy diet after you quit smoking, weight gain may not be a problem.

Quitting Smoking and Weight Gain

According to the Mayo Clinic (2008), nicotine suppresses appetite and increases metabolism, so the connection between quitting smoking and weight gain makes sense.

One possible link is that of smoking and diet. Both are habitual behaviors, so a change in one may precipitate a change in the other. Smokers are accustomed to always having something in their mouths, and food may provide a comforting replacement once cigarettes are gone. In addition, food often tastes better after you quit smoking. Weight gain may ensue if you adopt a post-smoking diet of rich and high-calorie foods, such as ice cream and steak.

Regardless of the connection between quitting smoking and weight gain, remember that weight gain or loss depends mainly on caloric intake and expenditure. Regardless of any other external factors–including cigarettes–you’ll lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume, and gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn. This holds true, whether or not you smoke.

Food may also replace smoking as a remedy for boredom and stress, or even provide a social function previously fulfilled by smoking. Although diet and eating habits may require some adjustment after you quit, many former smokers find this adjustment quite manageable–and well worth the health benefits.

Tips for Quitting Smoking and Avoiding Weight Gain

If you’re concerned about weight gain, these tips may help:

  • Keep your hands and mouth busy by having mints, toothpicks or straws on hand. This will solve fidgeting and oral fixation issues, which are natural for someone who’s quitting smoking.
  • Consider beginning an exercise regime before your quit day, so that you can feel the health benefits and stress reduction that come from replacing smoking and eating with exercise.
  • Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, which both contain lots of calories.

If you quit smoking, weight gain isn’t necessarily a part of the process. And even if it does occur, many people who gain weight after quitting smoking lose weight again within six months. Remember that smoking is much more harmful than a few extra pounds. Once you decide to quit smoking, weight gain is a small and temporary price to pay.

Resources

Rosenow, E. C. (2008). Quit smoking, gain weight: Is it inevitable? Retrieved October 3, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/quit-smoking/AN01437

Smoking Cessation. (2005). Dealing with weight gain. Retrieved September 30, 2010, from http://www.smoking-cessation.org/content/weight.asp

Tobacco Research and Intervention Program. (2000). Smoking and weight. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from http://www.smokefree.gov/pubs/FFree3.pdf