Friday, November 19, 2010
Quitting Smoking...a WEIGHTY Issue
Why do people who quit smoking gain weight? Does it always happen, or can it be avoided? Do we really care that weight gain is really less detrimental to our health than smoking?
As a physician, I have found that women in particular choose to keep smoking because they simply do NOT want to gain weight. Period. I will confess that I will occasionally try to appeal to their vanity by discussing the yellow teeth or bad breath that tend to accompany cigarettes, but the reality is that what is important in this situation is helping patients understand why smokers gain weight with quitting, and how it can be avoided. So here are some things to remember:
1. Nicotine is an appetite suppressant, so obviously, when you initially take it away, your appetite is up.
2. Smoking KILLS taste buds, so just about the time the extra appetite from quitting is going away (around a week), suddenly food begins to TASTE better, because now you've actually got healthy taste buds!
3. Happily, ALL FOODS taste better, not only the high fat/high calorie ones.
4. Yes, oral gratification is a habit, so STOCK YOUR FRIDGE with some low calorie, crunchy and delicious snacks like carrot sticks with hummus, or apple slices, or ANY fruit or vegetable. Additionally, suck on sour hard candies the first week or two.
5. Don't forget EXERCISE! Getting and keeping your heart rate up for 30 minutes per day is equal to a low dose of an anti-depressant medicine, so exercise will not only balance extra calories consumed, but will make you HAPPY and less irritable!
BOTTOM LINE: Be proactive with your available food choices and exercise, and you will NOT pack on a bunch of weight when you quit smoking.