Foods help quit smoking

Quitting Smoking: Help for Cravings and Tough Situations

What does it take to stay tobacco-free?

Quitting smoking can be a long and hard process. But staying tobacco-free is the longest and most important part of it. Every day you must decide not to smoke today.

Each day that you don’t smoke is a small victory. These all add up to a huge victory over time.

How do I get through the rough spots after I stop smoking?

  • For the first few days after you quit smoking, spend as much free time as you can in public places where smoking is not allowed. (Libraries, malls, museums, theaters, restaurants without bars, and churches are most often smoke-free.)
  • Take extra care of yourself. Drink water, eat well, and get enough sleep. This could help you have the energy you might need to handle extra stress.
  • Don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or any other drinks you link with smoking for at least a couple of months. Try something else instead – maybe different types of water, sports drinks, or 100% fruit juices. Try to choose drinks that are low- or no-calorie.
  • If you miss the feeling of having a cigarette in your hand, hold something else – a pencil, a paper clip, a coin, or a marble, for example.
  • If you miss the feeling of having something in your mouth, try toothpicks, cinnamon sticks, sugarless gum, sugar-free lollipops, or celery. Some people chew on a straw or stir stick.
  • Avoid temptation – stay away from activities, people, and places you link with smoking.
  • Create new habits and a non-smoking environment around you.
  • Get ready to face future situations or crises that might make you want to smoke again, and think of all the important reasons you’ve decided to quit. To remind yourself of these reasons, put a picture of the people who are the most important to you somewhere you see it every day, or keep one handy on your phone.
  • Take deep breaths to relax. Picture your lungs filling with fresh, clean air.
  • Remember your goal and the fact that the urge to smoke will lessen over time.
  • Think about how awesome it is that you’re quitting smoking and getting healthy. If you start to weaken, remember your goal. Remember that quitting is a learning process. Be patient with yourself.
  • Brush your teeth and enjoy that fresh taste.
  • Exercise in short bursts (try alternately tensing and relaxing muscles, push-ups, lunges, walking up the stairs, or touching your toes).
  • Call a friend, family member, or a telephone stop-smoking help-line when you need extra help or support.
  • Eat 4 to 6 small meals during the day instead of 1 or 2 large ones. This keeps your blood sugar levels steady, your energy balanced, and helps prevent the urge to smoke. Avoid sugary or spicy foods that could trigger a desire to smoke.
  • Above all, reward yourself for doing your best. Give yourself rewards often if that’s what it takes to keep going. Plan to do something fun.

When you get the “crazies”

Cravings are real – it’s not just your imagination. When you feel the “crazies” you may also notice that your mood changes, and your heart rate and blood pressure may go up, too. Try these tips to get through these times, and hang in there – the cravings will get better:

  • Keep substitutes handy that you can suck or chew on, such as carrots, pickles, apples, celery, raisins, or sugar-free gum or hard candy.
  • Know that anger, frustration, anxiety, irritability, and even depression are normal after quitting and will get better as you learn ways to cope that don’t involve tobacco. See your doctor if these feelings last for more than a month.
  • Take 10 deep breaths, and hold the last one while lighting a match. Exhale slowly and blow out the match. Pretend it’s a cigarette and put it out in an ashtray.
  • Go for a walk. Exercise can improve your mood and relieve stress.
  • Take a shower or bath.
  • Learn to relax quickly and deeply. Go limp. Think about a soothing, pleasing situation, and imagine yourself there. Get away from it all for a moment. Focus on that peaceful place and nothing else.
  • Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
  • Tell yourself “no.” Say it out loud. Practice doing this a few times, and listen to yourself. Some other things you can say to yourself might be, “I’m too strong to give in to smoking,” “I don’t smoke anymore,” or “I will not let my friends and family down.” And most important, “I will not let myself down.”
  • Never let yourself think that “one cigarette won’t hurt,” because it very likely will.
  • Wear a rubber band around your wrist. Whenever you think about smoking, snap it against your wrist to remind yourself of all the reasons that made you want to quit in the first place. Then remember that you won’t always need a rubber band to help you stay with your plans to quit.

Other ways to stay active

You might have a lot of pent-up energy while trying to quit and stay tobacco-free. When you’re looking for something to do besides smoking, think about ways you can be active and productive, or maybe you can try something new! Do some yardwork or housework. Organize or clean out a closet, a room, or even the entire basement. Get involved in a new sport or hobby you like. Some of these “distractions” can help keep you from gaining weight after quitting, too.

Find activities that are free or fairly cheap. You can rent a DVD for beginner’s yoga, tai chi, or aerobics – or maybe even borrow one from the library. A walk in a park, a local mall, or around your neighborhood is a good way to get moving, too. You’ll notice over time that it gets easier to do these things. And watch how much better you can breathe as each day passes without smoking.

Staying tobacco-free over holidays

The first few weeks after quitting smoking can be hard for anyone. And staying away from smoking may be extra tough during a holiday season, when stress and the temptation to overindulge are often worse. Some special efforts can help you celebrate the holidays without giving in to the urge to smoke. Many of these ideas can also help throughout the year.

Celebrate being tobacco-free and try these tips to keep your mind off smoking:

  • Be a host. Consider hosting the family dinner to keep yourself busy. Shopping and cooking will certainly take up a lot of your time. If you’d prefer being a guest this year, maybe you can make a special dish to take with you.
  • Don’t overdo it. Without smoking, you might be inclined to go overboard with the holiday feasting. Be aware of how much you’re eating and drinking; it may be easy to give in to these other temptations. If you do overdo it, forgive yourself. Remember, next year it won’t be as hard.
  • Try to stay away from alcohol. Stick to sugar-free seltzer, punch without alcohol, club soda, or apple cider. This will curb the urge to light up when drinking and can also help keep off extra pounds.
  • Avoid spicy and sugary foods. Spicy and sugary foods tend to make people crave cigarettes more.
  • Nibble on low-calorie foods. Low-calorie foods such as carrot sticks, apples, and other healthy snacks, can help satisfy your need for crunch without adding extra pounds.
  • Stretch out meals. Eat slowly and pause between bites to make a meal more satisfying. For dessert, grab an orange or tangerine, or crack some nuts – something that will keep your hands busy, too.
  • Keep busy at parties. Serving snacks and meeting guests will help keep your mind off smoking. If the urge to smoke presents itself, put something in your hand other than a cigarette.
  • Treat yourself to something special. Celebrate staying quit. Think about buying yourself that special something you’ve been wanting.
  • Cope with frustration. Any added frustration can leave you wanting a cigarette. Take along your favorite magazine or book, check your email, or text a friend while waiting in lines. When you feel you’re about to lose control, stop and think. Take hold of yourself and start talking with someone in line next to you, or start looking at what you brought with you.

More suggestions

If you have a weak moment and slip during the holidays, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself of your commitment to quit, and all the reasons you quit. Commit to going back to your quit program right away. Destroy any cigarettes you have before you’re tempted to smoke another one. Try to figure out why you had a setback and learn from it. Here are more ideas that have helped smokers kick the habit for good:

  • Take one day at a time. When you wake up each morning, make the promise you won’t smoke a cigarette that day. A day at a time keeps the whole thing more manageable.
  • Picture your success. Plan ahead and think of how you’ll deal with stressful situations without turning to cigarettes.
  • Take a breather. Relaxation exercises can help relieve your urge to smoke. Take a deep breath, hold it for a second, then release it very slowly. Or, stand up and stretch while you take a few deep breaths. Remember, the urge to smoke is only temporary. It will pass.
  • Work out. Physical activity helps relieve tension and the urge to smoke. Exercise will also help burn off any extra pounds.
  • Make friends with people who don’t smoke or who have quit smoking. They can be your partners to help keep you busy and away from cigarettes. Plan time together and explore new outlets you might enjoy. Remember, you’re learning to be tobacco-free, and you need to find new places and activities to replace your old smoking-centered ones.

Get support you can count on

If you’re thinking about reaching for a cigarette, reach for help instead. Ask your friends and family to encourage the new non-smoking you, reach out to a support group, visit Nicotine Anonymous, or call 1-800-QUIT NOW. You can always call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. We want you to quit smoking and we’re here to help you do it!

10 Foods and Drinks That Can Help You Quit Smoking

Ask anyone who’s quit smoking (or who has attempted to quit smoking), and he or she will tell you that it’s one of the hardest habits to break. Besides the fact that nicotine is addictive, it’s very difficult to let go of the routine of taking a smoke break. But did you know that, for various reasons, certain foods and drinks could seriously come in handy when you’re trying to quit cold turkey?

10 Foods and Drinks That Can Help You Quit Smoking (Slideshow)

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re trying to give up cancer sticks is that you really shouldn’t go on a diet. Depriving yourself of your favorite foods could cause you to lose focus and fall right off the wagon. Instead, eat what you want, but keep in mind that certain foods and drinks are more likely to send you reaching for a cigarette. Glucose, for example, stimulates the areas of the brain that are responsible for pleasure, which can increase your cravings. So try to stay away from foods that contain a lot of sugar.

It’s important to avoid triggers, so consumption of alcohol should also be kept to a minimum while you’re trying to quit. Even a trip to a bar, or other places that you usually associate with smoking (at least in distant memory, when you could actually smoke in bars), can set off cravings.

When you’re trying to quit smoking, food serves a couple important functions. One, it gives you something to do with your mouth instead of smoking, and, two, there are actually some foods that have been proven to make cigarettes taste terrible (we’ll get to that). Alcohol, caffeine (especially coffee), and red meat actually make cigarettes taste better, so you might want to cut back on those as well.

Quitting smoking requires a whole lot of will power, commitment, and determination. There are dozens of methods for quitting, from going cold turkey to gradually reducing your intake, from nicotine patches and gum to hypnosis and prescription medicines. But one of the most important and valuable tools at your disposal is something you already consume every day: food. So read on to learn about ten foods and drinks that can help you quit smoking for good.

Studies have shown that ginseng prevents the “pleasure” neurotransmitter dopamine from being released when you have a cigarette. When taken weekly, it can cut back on the level of enjoyment you get from cigarettes.

According to a Duke University study, smokers who drank a glass of milk prior to smoking thought that the cigarette tasted terrible, with a bitter aftertaste. So drink some milk every time you have a craving (or dip your cigarettes in milk and let them dry), and before you know it the thought of cigarettes will disgust you.

Quit Smoking Diet

You will experience low blood sugar after quitting smoking, so you should regularly eat the type of snacks that slowly release sugar into your bloodstream, like brown bread slices, small portions of whole meal cereal, apricots, pears, whole wheat crackers and natural yogurts. Foods that release serotonin into your body should help stave off the depression many quitting smokers experience. Serotonin is the chemical released when you are in love or when you eat chocolate. Healthy food sources that contain serotonin are turkey, chicken, fish, beans and nuts. Nicotine improves your concentration and withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, according to the University of Massachusetts, so you will feel drowsy. Protein improves your concentration, so when you are working, eat fish, egg whites, beans, or poultry to keep you alert. Smoking depletes your body of vitamin C, which protects the lungs and lowers your risk of cancer, so eat citrus and tropical fruits like oranges and kiwis to replenish yourself, and top up on vitamin B with bananas and leafy green vegetables to improve your nervous system.


Breathing serves as the vital purpose of exchanging carbon dioxide with oxygen but also relaxes and calms the body. Damage to the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract can lead to recurring colds and flues whilebad oxygenation affects every organ in the body. Fortunately, exercising in fresh air helps to restore air circulation to every alveoli in the lungs.

Smoking is a terrible burden on the respiratory system.

Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemical constituents. The most addictive one is nicotine: a stimulant of the central nervous system, a stimulant of adrenaline production, a contributing factor to high blood pressure and an increased heart rate, and a disruptor of metabolic rates.

It also affects the regulation of body temperature, the degree of muscle tension and the levels of certain hormones. All this creates a pleasurable sensation that is experienced as a feeling of relaxation. However, the body rapidly develops a tolerance to nicotine which encourages an increase in the amount of cigarettes smoked.

Cigarettes are a factor in over 37,000 deaths annually in Canada and cause about one third of all cancers, one fourth of fatal heart attacks and 85% of lung cancer cases.

Smoking is linked to the following health issues: angina, arteriosclerosis, cataract, chronic bronchitis, circulatory problems, colorectal cancer, diarrhea, emphysema, heartburn, heart attacks, high blood pressure, impotence, lung cancer, mouth cancer, peptic ulcers, respiratory problems, throat cancer and urinary incontinence.

The withdrawal symptoms when smoking is stopped are: irritability, frustration, anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, increased appetite, headache, stomach cramps, a slow heart rate, a rise in blood pressure and an intense craving for nicotine.

Smoking contributes to an accumulation of toxins that your body must work on eliminating. It needs more antioxidants – substances that protect cells from the damage of free radicals – to reduce or counteract the carcinogenic effects of smoking. Produced by all types of pollution, free radicals accelerate the aging process and are the cause of most degenerative diseases.

Natural remedies to help you quit smoking

Ginkgo Extra from A.Vogel has an antioxidant effect that will help alleviate the damaging effects of smoking (increasing the glutathione levels). It also helps with better circulation (one of the major side effects of cigarettes) and has an impact on the inflammation of the lining of the lungs.

Bronchosan from A.Vogel helps to eliminate the residue (brownish mucus) that smoking leaves in the lungs. It also contains licorice roots which help with the cravings and make the cigarette taste bad. Combining Ginkgo Extra and Bronchosan together will help eliminate the toxins that the cigarettes leave in the body and diminish the cravings more rapidly.

Taking Bio-Strath would also ensure that you eliminate all the deficiencies in vitamins and minerals that you may have from smoking. If there is a lot of tension, anxiety and/or nervousness from stopping smoking, Avenaforce from A.Vogel is a nerve tonic that will help you relax and sleep. Since it helps to nourish the nervous system it could even help with energy levels.

A.Vogel Vital Energy contains oats (Avena sativa), which is the same as Avenaforce, as well as rhodiola. This plant, known to nourish the adrenals, can contribute in reducing cigarette cravings.

To avoid weight gain, take one to two tablets of A.Vogel Thyroid Support (Kelpasan) in the morning to help rebalance your metabolism. Increase gradually to two for better results.


  • When you have cravings you can smell or drink something that has a strong smell (ex. flowers) or a strong taste (ex. mint or ginger tea). This will help the cravings go away faster. Cravings normally do not last more than 3-5 minutes.
  • Keep your hands occupied since they will be looking for cigarettes by habit (ex. keep a pencil at hand).
  • Stress will make quitting smoking harder. Learn new relaxation techniques (ex. yoga and tai-chi).
  • In the beginning, avoid social situations where you usually smoked more. Wait until you are stronger in your resolve before you put yourself in this situation again or change habits completely.
  • You can change your routine to help with the situation where it is harder to go without cigarettes (ex. morning coffee can be taken later).
  • Follow a Boldocynara cure. This will help eliminate toxins faster and in turn, will help reduce cravings.
  • Last but not least, drink a lot of water. This will help to eliminate the toxins faster and lessen the cravings.

by Josée Fortin, biochemist

Three-quarters of smokers say they want to quit, and most have made a serious attempt to do so. Unfortunately, kicking the habit for good is easier said than done, as anyone who’s tried and failed can tell you.

Though giving up smoking is tough, there are tricks and tools you can use to make it a bit easier, from nicotine patches and prescription drugs to counseling, hypnosis, and acupuncture. What you eat (or don’t eat) may also play a role in how easy it is to stop smoking. While no dietary change is going to magically curb your addiction, shifts in how and what you eat may make quitting a bit easier. Here are four foods to consider adding to your diet if you’re trying to stop smoking.

1. Milk

Smokers who drink a glass of milk before they light up may find that their cigarette doesn’t taste too good, a 2007 study by researchers at Duke University found. Nineteen percent of smokers studied said consuming dairy products like milk or cheese made cigarettes less palatable, while alcohol, coffee, and meat made them taste better.

“With a few modifications to their diet — consuming items that make cigarettes taste bad, such as a cold glass of milk, and avoiding items that make cigarettes taste good, like a pint of beer — smokers can make quitting a bit easier,” lead study investigator Joseph McClernon, Ph.D., said in a statement.

2. Fruits and vegetables

Eating fruits and vegetables before a smoke break also made cigarettes less satisfying, the Duke study found. Sixteen percent of smokers surveyed said those foods made cigarettes taste worse. A separate study of 1,000 smokers by researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables also lit up less frequently.

“It is … possible that fruits and vegetables give people more of a feeling of satiety or fullness so that they feel less of a need to smoke, since smokers sometimes confuse hunger with an urge to smoke,” Jeffrey P. Haibach, lead author on the paper published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, said in a statement.

3. Lollipops

Many people who are trying to quit smoking miss having something to hold in their mouth. Sucking on a lollipop may help you resist the temptation to reach for cigarette. On MetaFilter, user KathrynT recommended Dum-Dum lollipops for those attempting to quit. “They are tiny … they come in a zillion flavors, and if you don’t crunch them, they take just about as much time to eat as a cigarette does to smoke.”

If you don’t want to load up on sugar, other foods that keep your mouth busy, like celery, cinnamon sticks, or sugarless gum can help you fight the urge to smoke, according to the American Cancer Society.


WBUR’s Jack Lepiarz is no wimp. He not only braves live air multiple times a day as the station’s midday anchor, he also performs around the country as a circus whip-master, and even recently attempted to break the Guinness world record for whip strokes per minute.

But Jack has yet to defeat the most insidious physical and psychological challenge many of us ever face: his smoking habit.

He has plenty of company: Almost 1 in 5 Americans smoke, the CDC says. He writes here about some of the unexpected obstacles involved, in hopes of helping other would-be quitters and their supporters. And he’ll document his fight periodically this year. Please stay tuned. — Carey

I’m about to try again. This weekend will mark my fourth attempt to quit smoking over the last 10 weeks or so. At age 27, I’ve been smoking for a little more than seven years, with multiple attempts to quit every year since three months after I started. When they tell you that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, they’re not kidding.

I’m at the point where I’ve started and stopped so many times that I know what I’m getting into, but every time, I seem to notice a new symptom or side effect of nicotine withdrawal. Almost always, I’m surprised. We hear about cigarette cravings, irritability and other symptoms of withdrawal — but the process of quitting also carries with it some other, lesser known symptoms.

1. The Mental Fog

By far my least favorite side effect, and one that I find the hardest to explain. You know that feeling you have right after you wake up? Half present, half in another world? This is your brain — not on drugs. I’ve described it as similar to going a day without coffee — except worse. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) Or being in a state of constantly having just had two beers. You can’t focus, you can’t sit still, you can’t formulate any thoughts that last in your brain for more than 30 seconds.

Except for how much you want a cigarette.

2. The Smell

This is one that sneaks up on you. Most people know that smoking dulls your sense of taste and smell, but it’s such a gradual process when you start smoking that you don’t notice it. For me, it rarely takes more than 36 hours to get those senses back strongly — and never in a good way.

The first time I really noticed it was last winter, when after a day of not smoking I drank a soda and nearly spat it out. I never knew it was that sweet.

The smell aspect hit me when I tried to quit on a hot, humid day in July. Long story short, we all need to wear more deodorant. Also brush our teeth more. Also, cities just smell awful in general. Also, yes, I recognize the irony of a smoker complaining about bad smells. You notice just how bad cigarettes smell, too.

3. The Constant Hunger

Many smokers will tell you that one of the first things they do after eating is smoke a cigarette. It’s a ritual. It marks the end of the meal and signifies that you’re ready to get back to doing other things. Nicotine is also an appetite suppressant.

Once you take those two things away, you suddenly find yourself hungry. All. The. Time. It’s not a biting hunger. You know you’re not dying of hunger, but you’re always just a bit peckish. You say, “Yeah, I could have another apple,” or, “A sandwich sounds really good right now,” usually right after you finish a massive steak and potatoes dinner.

4. Nicotine Replacement Therapy Will Mess You Up

I’ve stopped using things like nicotine gum or lozenges in more recent quitting attempts — and not because they don’t work. If anything, they work too much.

The first time I decided to chew nicotine gum, I bought a pack of the 4-milligram variety. For reference, most cigarettes have about 1 milligram of nicotine in them. In essence, chewing one piece of gum was like smoking four cigarettes at once. When I tried it, I was so happy not to be craving a cigarette that I didn’t notice that I was starting to feel lightheaded — then sick — then really sick.

They say the first time you have a cigarette you get sick to your stomach. I never had that experience when I started. I assume that must be what it’s like.

5. Your Emotions Go Haywire

Everyone knows that people who quit smoking generally get a short temper during the quitting process. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

During one of my quitting attempts, my emotions went on a 20-minute loop — seven minutes of being angry, seven minutes of pure joy because this is the time I’m going to quit smoking, and seven minutes of being on the verge of tears because, well, this is the time I’m going to quit smoking.

It’s like every feeling gets ramped up to 11 on a scale of 10. That car cut you off in traffic? Lay on the horn! Car slow to move at a green light? Lay on the horn! Car’s only going the speed limit? …You get the idea.

There are two ways to make all of this stop. The first is to get through it and hold on until the symptoms subside and you are no longer a smoker. Or, you can walk a block down the street and buy a pack of cigarettes and feel normal immediately. The challenge is picking the former and not the latter.

Readers, words of wisdom for Jack? Please share.

Jack Lepiarz facing an easier challenge as “Jacques Ze Whipper,” at King Richard’s Faire. (Karen Given/Only A Game)

Quitting naturally can sometimes be compared to holistic healing. However, there are foods available that can help you quit naturally through organic properties.

Today’s smokers have an entire arsenal of smoking cessation aids to help them quit – more than ever before. But many people are either turned off by many of the aids available, or just simply cannot afford the high prices of patches, prescriptions, or hours of hypnosis sessions. Vapes are also becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to cigarettes. Even though they are not recognized as genuine quit smoking aids, many people are making the switch to e-cigarettes but with mixed results.

Good news for these folks: there are some methods of quitting that don’t require a doctor’s approval and that are easy to access. In fact, they are found right in your local grocery store.

Some studies have shown certain foods may help alleviate cigarette cravings or even make the taste of cigarettes repulsive even for the most avid of smokers.

What are These Smoking Cessation Foods?


Research has shown that drinking milk prior to smoking makes cigarettes taste unappealing to study participants. The same effect can be had by dipping cigarettes into milk ahead of time and allowing them to dry. Most respondents claimed their cigarettes had a bitter aftertaste. When cigarettes taste disgusting they don’t seem nearly as appealing, even for those with full-blown nicotine addictions or even for anyone who has taken a hit from an oil vape pen. This goes for most other dairy products as well, such as cheese, yogurt, and cream.

Snacks with lots of salt

Choose your poison on this one. Whether you like potato chips, salted nuts, or popcorn with loads of salt and real butter, salty snacks have shown to reduce nicotine and tobacco cravings. Just make sure if you have high blood pressure to speak with a doctor before beginning a sodium-rich diet.


Namely, snack-like veggies such as celery, carrots, eggplant, squash, and cucumbers. Not only are these snacks better for the waistline than many others, but they also have the same taste effect as milk. Additionally, many vegetables take longer to chew than other snacks, so they’ll keep your mouth busy while you work through tobacco cravings.

Foods rich in vitamin C

Smoking cigarettes depletes the body’s vitamin C stores, so this is a good idea for other reasons as well. But some research suggests that restoring vitamin C in the body may also help reduce cigarette cravings. While citrus fruits are the more commonly known vitamin-C rich foods (think oranges, grapefruits, and nectarines), there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C. Strawberries, broccoli, peppers, and kale all have more vitamin C than oranges, as well as more exotic fruit like papaya.

Foods to Avoid

Knowing which foods to consume is one thing, but it’s also a good idea to avoid foods which are most likely to trigger tobacco cravings. Trigger foods may vary based on the individual. For instance, if you enjoyed smoking while eating chocolate cake, then chocolate cake is probably going to be a trigger food. Other well-known foods that enhance the flavor of tobacco include red meat, alcohol, and caffeine-containing foods and beverages such as chocolate and coffee.

The Sugar Paradox

Sugar consumption has shown conflicting results in studies as a smoking deterrent and a smoking trigger. Some studies have shown that participants who consumed glucose tablets, such as those sold for diabetics, reported fewer cigarette cravings. Others have shown that giving in to sugar cravings while quitting may help prevent a relapse. However, conflicting studies have also shown that the consumption of sugar-laden foods may have the opposite effect, causing more intense nicotine cravings.

The bottom line on sugar is that it’s not healthy for you, whether you smoke or not. If you crave a sugary snack and feel that eating it would keep you from smoking, it is the lesser of the two evils, at least for a while. Additionally, trying to give up sugar (which can also be addictive) at the same time as trying to quit smoking may prove distracting or lead to more intense cravings for both. If you find you have a more intense sweet tooth while quitting, choose fruit whenever possible, since natural sugars are healthier than heavily refined snacks. Fruit also has the added health boosts of fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients. If sugary foods are triggers for you, however, it’s best that you avoid them altogether.

Make non-smoking friends

When you’re at a party, stick with the non-smokers.

“When you look at the smokers, don’t envy them,” Louise, 52, an ex-smoker told the health body.

“Think of what they’re doing as a bit strange – lighting a small white tube and breathing in smoke.”

Keep your hands and mouth busy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can double your chances of success.

It adds: “As well as patches, there are tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray. And if you like holding a cigarette, there are handheld products like the inhalator or e-cigarettes.

When you’re out, try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy.”

If you’re looking to get some stop smoking support you can contact your local stop smoking service, often available at your GP surgery.

You can also call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.

Smokers need more vitamin C than the average person as it affects the absorption of the important antioxidant in the body, a host of studies have shown.

So what should smokers be eating to keep their vitamin C levels up – or even better, what should you eat once you’ve kicked the bad habit?

Dr Miletto, Lucy and Dr Somers explain the affects of smoking on diet.

Foods and Drinks to Help You Quit Smoking (And Ones to Avoid)

Tips for quitting smoking are everywhere. Ranging from practical advice to help you deal with the psychological aspects of cravings through to quitting approaches like medications and nicotine replacement therapies that are well-supported by evidence, everyone seems to have a suggestion for helping you stay cigarette-free. Some tips are more common than others, though, and most smokers wouldn’t even think about the food or drink they consume as being a potential benefit or hindrance when trying to quit, but some research – and the experiences of smokers – suggests that they really could be.

Foods and Drinks That Could Help You Quit Smoking

A study from researchers at Duke University is largely responsible for much of the advice when it comes to food and drink that could help you quit smoking. The researchers became interested in claims from smokers that certain foods and drinks made cigarettes taste better, and set out to investigate it by surveying over 200 smokers about foods and drinks which make cigarettes either taste better or worse. The results form the basis of much of the advice in this post.

There are other benefits to using foods and drinks as a tool when you’re trying to quit smoking too. When you’re experiencing a craving, having something to do to take your mind off it can be invaluable. Some quitters go for a walk, or take up a new hobby, or phone a loved one, but you can use food or drink to serve exactly the same purpose.

1 – Milk/Yogurt

Dairy products were identified as one of the types of food and drink that made cigarettes taste worse, so drinking milk or eating yogurt could be a useful tip when you’re dealing with cravings or trying to reduce the amount you smoke.

2 – Vegetables

Another category commonly reported to make cigarettes taste worse is vegetables. The big benefit of this group as one of the foods to help you quit smoking is that eating more vegetables is good for your health. It should reduce the appeal of smoking, but even if it doesn’t work for you, it’ll be good for your health to tuck into a celery stick every so often anyway.

3 – Gum and Mints

This wasn’t included in the study, but works particularly well as “something to do” when you’re struggling with a craving. Both gum and mints last for a long time, so you can keep chewing or sucking until your craving dissipates. This is one of the benefits of nicotine gum – as well as providing the nicotine you need to ease your cravings, it also gives you something to do with your mouth.

4 – Ginseng Tea

Ginseng tea is another option for a drink that can help you quit smoking, but the story here is a little different too. Studies have suggested that ginseng could genuinely reduce the effects of nicotine, which could reduce the appeal of smoking and thereby make it easier to quit.

5 – Water/Fruit Juice

This wasn’t covered in the study, but drinking water or fruit juice are both good options for “distracting” things to do when you’re struggling with cravings.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid When You’re Trying to Quit Smoking

1 – Meat

In the study that asked smokers about things which enhanced or detracted from the taste of cigarettes, meat was identified as something that made smoking taste better. You don’t have to go vegetarian, but cutting down on the meat might make it easier to cut down on cigarettes.

2 – Alcohol

Alcohol and cigarettes are a good pairing from a smoker’s perspective, and alcohol was identified as something which made smoking taste better. Reducing the amount you drink or avoiding it altogether is good for this reason, but it also helps avoid any tipsy decisions to have “just one” cigarette.

3 – Caffeine

Caffeine – whether as part of coffee, tea, cola or in any other form – was also identified as something that made cigarettes taste better. Avoiding caffeine or reducing your intake could make it easier to stay away from cigarettes.

Understand Your Habits and Try New Things

There are several specific suggestions of foods and drinks to help you quit smoking and ones which could make it more difficult in this post, but understanding your own habits is the most important thing. If you always smoke when you’re drinking your morning coffee, then you know changing your coffee for something else is particularly important. However, if you smoke with your morning orange juice, then changing your orange juice for something else is probably a better approach for you. Although several of these suggestions could help smokers in general, thinking about your smoking habits will give you a better idea of the sort of changes that might help you specifically.

Weight gain and quitting smoking

Some people gain weight when quitting smoking. This can be a concern for many smokers. It is important to remember that not every smoker who quits will put on weight. However, the health benefits from quitting far outweigh the risk of putting on some extra kilos.

This factsheet provides information on why weight gain might occur and strategies to help maintain a healthy weight.

What can cause weight gain when quitting smoking?
  • Changed metabolism – the nicotine from cigarettes boosts metabolic rate and increases the number of kilojoules burned. After stopping smoking, metabolic rate returns to normal. Because fewer kilojoules are burned, a person might gain weight even if they are eating the same amount as before.
  • Habit – smokers may miss the hand-to-mouth action. This is often replaced with eating snacks, causing food intake to increase.
  • Eating more food – the nicotine from cigarettes acts as an appetite suppressant and can result in smokers skipping meals. Quitting smoking may lead to feeling hungrier more than usual and changed eating habits.
  • Comfort – food is comforting if you are feeling down or anxious and might be used to relieve cravings.
  • Reward – snacks are often used as a reward for making progress and achieving goals, leading to weight gain.
  • Food is more appealing – after quitting smoking, food will start to taste and smell much better as these senses begin to improve.
What foods should I eat?

When making decisions about food, choose:

  • plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • cereals, breads, pasta and rice – wholegrain options when possible
  • lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish
  • dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese – fat reduced options when possible.
  • Look on the nutrition information panel on product labels for foods that have:
    • Less than 10g total fat per 100g
    • Less than 15g sugars per 100g
    • Less than 400mg salt (sodium) per 100g
  • Foods high in fat, sugar, salt and/or alcohol should not be eaten every day and only in small amounts
Handy hints to avoid weight gain
  • Swap your snacks – if your usual snacks are high in fat or sugar, swap these for healthier options such as carrot and celery sticks, low-fat dip, a piece of fruit, or plain popcorn.
  • Be prepared – plan ahead for cravings by having healthy snacks with you that are ready to go. Preparing and freezing meals in advance will also save you time and money.
  • Exercise – adding or increasing the amount of activity in your normal routine means the less kilojoules you have to cut out of your diet to prevent weight gain. Start by walking around the block.
  • Keep busy – keep your mouth and hands occupied by chewing on sugar free gum, fruit, carrot sticks or sipping on water.
  • Don’t crash diet – although it might be tempting to skip meals or make radical changes to how you eat to avoid weight gain, this can increase cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Having regular healthy meals throughout the day, especially breakfast, is the better way to prevent weight gain.
  • Be patient – be aware that it takes about 20 minutes for your body to recognise that you are full, so wait a while after a meal or snack before eating more.
  • Drink water – carry water with you to drink instead of having soft drinks or snacks.
  • Keep your mouth fresh – brushing your teeth or eating a hot mint after a meal freshens your mouth and can stop you from eating more.
  • Experience – make sure that you experience the food you are eating. Think about the taste, texture and enjoyment of the food. Try not to eat just for something to do.
  • Be realistic – it is okay to gain some weight so don’t be discouraged. Weight loss and quitting smoking both take willpower and commitment. If it is difficult to manage both goals at the same time, focus on quitting smoking first. There will be plenty of time to achieve a healthy weight later.

A few extra kilos gained when quitting smoking is much less harmful to your health than continuing to smoke. Remember the goal of quitting and the benefits that you will gain.

After quitting smoking
  • Within 6 hours – your heartrate slows and blood pressure decreases.
  • Within a day – carbon monoxide levels in your blood decrease and oxygen can more easily reach your heart and muscles. Your fingertips become warmer and your hands steadier.
  • Within a week – your sense of taste and smell improve. Your lungs start to remove mucus, tar and dust.
  • Within 2 months – you cough and wheeze less. Your immune system improves. Your blood become less thick and can flow better.
  • Within 6 months – your lungs are working much better and produce less phlegm. You are less likely to feel stressed than when you were smoking.

Produced by Nutrition Australia NSW Division, supported by Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, June 2015.

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