“If I Stop Smoking, I Will Get Fat”
The weight gain that often happens when we quit smoking discourages many smokers from butting out for good, but the benefits associated with stopping smoking are much more significant than the consequences related to the few kilos gained! However, when properly prepared, it is still possible to limit weight gain!
What happens when we quit smoking?
Nicotine influences your brain and body in several ways. When you quit smoking, you can be more irritable, impatient, anxious, depressed, or even suffer from insomnia. These states of mind can affect the intensity and frequency of your workouts, in addition to making you want to eat comfort foods, i.e., foods that are rich in sugars and fats.
Quitting smoking also leads to a reduction of your basal metabolism, which is generally synonym with weight gain. Also, some enzymes responsible for stocking fat are activated when you quit smoking. Possible result: an increase in your body fat percentage.
Counter weight gain with physical activity!
Weight gain happens at a faster rate in the first few months following the decision to quit. However, after one year, there is a return to initial weight, and interestingly, ex-smokers who are physically active are said to better control their weight than those who stay sedentary. Physical activity enables you to counter the reduction of your basal metabolism and allows you to burn more calories on a daily basis, while keeping your mind focused on something else and loading up on exhilarating endorphins! Your mood will therefore be improved, and your temptations to eat, fewer! So start exercising slowly, but surely, in order to help yourself through your quitting process!
Limiting the damages, it’s possible!
· Quitting cigarette brings renewed energy. Take advantage of this to move as much as possible!
· Replace your taste for cigarette by a more enjoyable flavour: chew on a cinnamon stick, a carrot or celery stalk, brush your teeth, use gum, etc.
· Surround yourself with non-smokers, especially in the beginning, because this is when the risks of relapse are at their highest.
· Treat yourself with something other than food. Save the money you would have otherwise spent on cigarettes, and use it for a couple getaway, to plan a trip, or to renew your wardrobe.
By Vanessa Martin, nutritionist
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Aubin H-J, Farley A, Lycett D, Lahmek P, Aveyard P. Weight gain in smokers after quitting cigarettes: meta-analysis. BMJ 2012;345:e4439.
Munafo, M.R., K. Tilling and Y. Ben-Shlomo, Smoking status and body mass index: a longitudinal study, Nicotine Tob Res., 2009, 11 (6), p.765-771.