According to Dr. Edward Rosenow, pulmonologist at the Mayo Clinic, there are at least three reasons why people tend to gain weight when they quit smoking:
- Nicotine is responsible for slightly raising your metabolism; on quitting, the metabolism slows—resulting in the burning of fewer calories;
- Senses of smell and taste improve on quitting smoking, making some foods more appealing;
- Many people snack on food as a substitute for smoking, and the calories add up.
As Dr. Rosenow points out, the health benefits of quitting smoking not only far outweigh gaining ten pounds in the six months after you quit, but unlike gaining weight, many of the destructive and deadly health consequences of smoking are irreversible.
Here are some tips to managing your weight after you quit:
- Lay off the alcohol. Alcohol is high in calories, and very high in trigger potential, giving you more than a few reasons to get on the wagon for a while.
- Stock up on healthy snacks. Prior to your quit date, stock your kitchen with healthy snacks, like fruits and vegetables and non-fat yogurts or pretzels, so that if you do over-snack, at least they will be healthy. However, do not buy healthy snacks you would never eat ordinarily, like rice cakes. If you wouldn’t eat them at another time, you won’t eat them now.
- Stay active. With your metabolism down, you can counter that by adding some basic exercise to your day, such as bike-riding or a brisk walk.
- Forgive yourself. Is an additional 5-15 pounds really so bad? Remember, you can always lose it later, but you can’t undo the likes of emphysema.
One thing at a time. Your focus should be on quitting smoking. Some people like to try and stack on the self-improvement moves when they quit smoking, and while this should be applauded, it does create a higher risk of failure in quitting smoking because it may be too much to ask of yourself. Quit smoking first—get over this tremendous hurdle first—then move on to other areas of your life.