Stop Smoking: How to Curb the Habit
When you’ve smoked for a long time, it’s certainly not easy to quit. In fact, if you’ve decided upon quitting, you’ve got a mammoth task ahead of you. However, there are undeniably many health benefits to stopping smoking. So, if you’re about to quit, you may have just saved your own life. Congratulations! But, how do you do it without falling off the wagon? And, how do you do it without gaining weight? Here are some of the best tips for quitting smoking without all the nasty side effects.
Keep a Diary
The first step is simple. All you need to do is monitor yourself and figure out when and where you’re most likely to smoke. Do you immediately reach for a cigarette when you’re stressed? Are you a social smoker, only reaching for a smoke when you’re out with friends or taking breaks in work? Perhaps you smoke to relax with a nice cup of tea? Understanding your habits is the first key to breaking them.
Set Up a Support System
Stopping smoking is a difficult thing to do on your own. Luckily, there are lots of ways you can get help. Contact your local health provider and let them know your plans. They’re likely to put you in touch with support groups and make recommendations, like nicotine patches or gum. Your healthcare provider can also remind you of why you’re doing it when it becomes difficult. For example, smoking has been linked to conditions like Atherosclerosis, Emphysema and certain types of cancer.
Regular exercise is one the best things you can do for yourself while trying to give up smoking, even on the days where you don’t feel like it. Smoking tricks the body into thinking it doesn’t need additional calories, which is why many smokers don’t put on weight. So, giving up smoking has the opposite effect – ex-smokers tend to gain weight quickly. Exercise isn’t just a great way to distract yourself from cravings, it’s also the ideal way of keeping the weight off during and after your detox.
Keep Your Hands Occupied
Curbing the habit isn’t just about dealing with the lack of nicotine. For many smokers, the habit of having something in their hands is just as difficult to break. So, when it comes to your usual smoking times throughout the day, always have a pencil nearby. You can use the pencil to flick around and occupy your hands until the craving passes. You can even use it to chew on if the craving becomes bad enough. Keep gum and sugar-free lollipops in your desk drawer at work, so you’re never caught short when your colleagues head off for a smoke break.
Allow Yourself Chocolate
Many smokers who are trying to quit also try and avoid chocolate like the plague because of their fear of putting on weight. However, chocolate often works in the same way nicotine does. A few squares of chocolate each morning could help you to keep your appetite at bay until lunch so you aren’t constantly snacking to ensure you don’t smoke. Remember, giving up nicotine is bad enough without putting yourself on a strict diet at the same time. One step at a time.
You may find that you become thirsty as you start to detox. Your body will start to crave the nicotine and that may manifest itself as thirst. So, if you’re dealing with a dry mouth throughout the day, you need to remember to have fresh water near to you at all times to avoid dehydration. If the taste of water is too plain for you, try adding a few mint leaves to your bottle. That way, you have a little extra taste to your fluid and the mint will help you to ignore your cravings, especially if you’ve been chewing mint flavored nicotine gum.
Switch to De-Caf
It’s inevitable that you’ll drink more tea and coffee during the day now that you’ve given up smoking. It’s something that keeps your hands and mouth busy for the same amount of time that a cigarette would. However, increasing your levels of caffeine may make it more difficult to sleep at night and concentrate on your work. You don’t want to have to deal with insomnia right now. So, the best idea is to switch to decaffeinated teas and coffees. It’s likely you won’t even be able to tell the difference.
Get Your 5 a Day
We all know that fruit and veg is good for us. However, most people don’t know that eating a healthy amount of fruit and veg can aid smokers who want to give up. A lot of fruit and veg contains fiber and the more fiber you have, the fuller you feel. If you start the day off with some healthy cereal, a banana and few blueberries, you’re far less likely to crave that 10am smoke break. Additionally, the fuller you are, the less likely you are to want to snack throughout the day. So, eating a good dose of fiber not only helps you avoid cravings, it helps you to not gain weight.
Smokers taste buds are often ruined by nicotine. Many smokers find they enjoy spicy foods because it’s the only way they get to taste something rich. However, going for spicier options or foods with added flavors often means there’s added sugar and salt. Obviously, going for these options isn’t going to do anything for your goal of not gaining weight. So, when you want to eat meals that satisfy your cravings and your taste buds, go for fresh herbs over spice.
No matter what their habits throughout the day, many smokers find themselves lighting up after a meal. You’ve just sat down to dinner, eat a lovely home-cooked meal and just before you’re about to switch the TV on and relax for the night, habit kicks in and you’re searching for a cigarette. If you find yourself in that predicament, the best way to resolve it is mouthwash. Buy yourself a mouthwash that has a rich mint flavor and gargle with it after dinner. It will help you avoid your cravings and look after your teeth and gums at the same time.
If you’re really finding it difficult in the evenings because you aren’t as occupied as you are at work, you won’t be the first and you certainly won’t be the last. For many, it’s the hardest time of the day. If the mouthwash just isn’t doing it and you feel yourself reaching for a cigarette, remove yourself from the situation. Go out and take a long evening walk. The fresh air will do you good, and the more times you do it, the less time it will take for your craving to disappear.
If you know the first few weeks are going to be hard on you, try making plans that will distract you from your cravings. Avoid going out for drinks because that often leads to social smoking. Instead, do things you’ve always wanted to do and you know you’ll have fun doing, like go-karting or laser-tag. Plan to go out with people who will support you. There’s no point in planning activities with a group of people if you know everyone else will be smoking around you. It’s important to protect yourself from potential slip-ups during the initial stages of quitting.
Although quitting entirely is advisable, some people just aren’t able to go the full way. That doesn’t make you a failure. Many health practitioners are suggesting switching to e-cigarettes as a healthier option for smokers. It’s a great way of lowering your nicotine intake gradually, while still having something to smoke and handle during your weakest moments. Switching to an e-cigarette may seem strange at first, but it’s slowly but surely taking over the traditional ways of smoking. In fact, 65% of smokers aged between 21 and 45 are now using e-cigarettes.
Quitting smoking is a huge deal and it’s important to acknowledge the psychological aspects, as well as the physical. It can help to join a support group and find people who are going through the same journey. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved. If you’re able to identify with other people’s struggles and they with yours, you don’t have to feel like you’re going through it alone. If a group isn’t your thing, it’s still worth visiting a counsellor who will understand what you’re going through and be able to offer help and advice when you need it.
Don’t Punish Yourself
If you slip and fall at a hurdle, get back up, dust yourself off and try again. One slip-up doesn’t mean you have to give up. One slip up doesn’t mean you haven’t got enough will power. Many smokers fail to quit the first time. The important thing is you keep at it until it gets easier and one day, you may find you’re a non-smoker.