Ready to stop smoking? Don't worry about gaining weight as you cut back on cigarettes -- these tips will help you kick the habit without packing on the pounds.
Kick the Habit
Fear of putting on pounds shouldn't stop you from trying to kick the habit: Two recent studies show that female quitters aren't any more likely to gain weight than the general population and that repeated nicotine use may actually increase your appetite. Robin Mermelstein, PhD, a smoking-cessation researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago, offers these tips:
- Use a nicotine-replacement product. Studies show that women who use patches or gum are less likely to gain weight. "Both of these will help reduce feelings of hunger as well as cravings for cigarettes," says Mermelstein.
- Compensate for the drop in metabolism. "Nicotine causes the body to burn about 200 more calories a day," says Mermelstein. Fight the dip by leaving a bite or two of food on your plate at each meal and adding a brisk 15-minute walk to your day.
- Plan distractions. To avoid replacing cigarettes with food or using high-cal treats as a reward, think up nonfood distractions and rewards ahead of time, suggests Mermelstein. Going for a run is a healthy choice, but if it's got to feel truly indulgent, try treating yourself to some online shoe shopping.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, March 2006.