Smokers who have been smoking for many years with a strong addiction to nicotine tend to have very big problems with quitting. There are many aspects to stop smoking, one of which is the fear of getting fat after giving up cigarettes. Studies show that the majority of people who have decided to stop smoking gain up to 5 kg in weight in the first few months.
Some people, of course, are not getting fat at all, and some people are significantly heavier. Giving up smoking is partly related to the effect of nicotine, which affects the receptors responsible for hunger and reduces the feeling of hunger. The sense of smell and taste is also suppressed (which makes the food more delicious after giving up nicotine). In addition, nicotine increases blood circulation, increases blood pressure, speeds up metabolism, and thus increases the body’s daily energy expenditure by up to 300 kcal.
Giving up weight after giving up smoking is not only related to the effect of nicotine but above all to replacing cigarettes with sweet and salty snacks. Eating after giving up smoking is a frequent behaviour which helps to relieve stress and so-called ‘hand seizure’ – smokers have a habit of reaching for something for many years. So far it has been a cigarette, and when you quit smoking it is usually a small snack.
How can you stop smoking and not get fat?
How can you not gain weight after giving up smoking? Avoiding gaining weight after quitting smoking is possible and achievable if we understand how the body has been affected by nicotine, which has so far been constantly supplied. It is very important to eat regularly and divide them into 5-6 smaller meals instead of 3 large ones. This makes it possible to systematically supply the body with energy and use it on an ongoing basis and makes it easier to control hunger attacks.
Nicotine addiction can turn into a sugar addiction, so it is best not to have sweets from a shop at home and to replace them with healthy alternatives made by yourself. Uncontrolled eating of sweets is the most common reason for gaining weight after giving up smoking.
For better health and to control the feeling of hunger, products with a low glycemic index should be consumed that do not cause leaps in blood sugar levels. Large fluctuations in glucose are conducive to the emergence of so-called wolf hunger and the deposition of fat tissue. Carbohydrate products that help maintain a slim figure include thick groats, brown rice, wholemeal bread or cereal, and vegetables that are best eaten in every meal are also very important.
Diet after quitting smoking – what to eat?
- raw vegetables cut into pieces, e.g. carrots, cucumbers, peppers served with garlic sauce based on natural yoghurt is a healthy snack that can be eaten with impunity and reached whenever there is a hunger strike or a need to take your hands off something
- homemade sweets, e.g. oat biscuits, cereal bars, carrot cake without flour, buckwheat biscuits with bitter chocolate contain not only much less sugar and calories than shop-fresh sweets, but are also much healthier and free of harmful trans-fats; sweets can be afforded as part of a meal and not in addition; it is best to eat a portion as a second breakfast
- vegetables and fruit, because they provide a lot of fibre that swells in the stomach and makes it easier to cope with excessive appetite when you quit smoking; they also provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help to regenerate the body and release toxins when you stop smoking; you should eat at least 500 g of vegetables and fruit a day
When quitting smoking, the diet should also include products with thermogenic effects that accelerate the metabolism of coffee, tea, cocoa, spices (cinnamon, cayenne pepper, chilli pepper, ginger), garlic, horseradish, lean meat, fish, coconut oil.