Maintaining Your Weight Once You’ve Quit Smoking

By: Ayotunde Adeyeri, M.D., FASMBSdr-ayotunde-adeyeri-copy

Although people sometimes gain weight when they stop smoking, you can reduce your chances of adding extra pounds by taking steps to prevent it. Being aware of situations in which you could be tempted to substitute food for a cigarette, and devising strategies to cope with those instances is your best bet. The following suggestions can help you maintain your weight after you stop smoking.

Exercise regularly
Taking a walk, riding a bicycle, dancing, or doing any other aerobic activity you enjoy is an important component of a weight-control program. Try to exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week. Now that you’ve stopped smoking, you may find physical activity easier and more enjoyable.

Eat less fat
Decrease your fat intake by substituting lower-fat foods for high-fat ones. Drink skim milk instead of whole milk, use mustard instead of mayonnaise, and have a baked potato instead of French fries.

Drink plenty of water
Low-calorie alternatives to water include diet soft drinks, coffee, tea, skim or 1% milk, and fresh fruit (fruit is high in water content). It’s easy to mistake hunger for thirst, so drink water when you’re tempted to eat between meals. Many smokers associate smoking with caffeine, so if you are one of them, avoid caffeinated beverages.

Snack on high-fiber foods
These include air-popped popcorn, whole-grain crackers and cereals, carrot sticks, celery sticks, raisins, apples, and grapes. These foods will fill you up without adding a significant amount of calories or fat.

Slow down
When you eat a meal, do it slowly to help keep you from overeating. Try cutting your food into very small pieces or putting your fork down after each bite.

Use healthy alternatives
Keep low-calorie substitutes for cigarettes in your desk, pocket or purse. Keep carrot or bread sticks, or low-fat, low-salt pretzels on hand. Those are better for your diet than a high-fat candy bar, a doughnut, or a bag of chips.

Chew sugarless gum
Or, suck on sugarless mints or low-calorie hard candies when an oral craving hits. Suck on one piece of candy at a time and let it melt slowly.

Skip dessert
Brush your teeth or suck on a breath mint as soon as you’re done eating your main course. Doing so will make you less likely to have dessert.

Get busy
Do something else when a craving for a cigarette or food hits. Try calling a friend, taking a walk, reading a book, or working on a project.

Find a hobby
Find things to do with your hands that aren’t food-related. Consider taking up a hobby, such as woodworking, gardening, or doing crossword puzzles. You can also squeeze a hand grip or a small rubber ball, play with a pen or handle some other small object, such as a pebble, key chain, or coin.

Ayotunde Adeyeri, M.D., FASMBS, is a board-certified and fellowship-trained laparoscopic, bariatric and general surgeon and medical director of the Institute for Weight Loss at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge. The Institute is accredited by the MBSAQIP as a Comprehensive Bariatric Center and provides individualized medical and surgical solutions and support for individuals seeking weight loss, including nutrition and lifestyle counseling. For more information or to attend a free bariatric surgery seminar, call 855-TIME-4-ME.

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