About a quarter of ex-smokers actually lose weight. And those who gain tend to average only 5 to 10 pounds. This may be something you’d rather avoid (and you can), but its effect on your health is minimal compared with the effects of continuing to smoke.
Although you're not concerned about it right now, there are several things you can do to prevent or minimize weight gain after you quit smoking.
Effects of Smoking on Weight
Smoking (nicotine) can affect your weight in several ways. It suppresses appetite, so you may eat less. Smoking also slows the movement of food through your stomach, so you tend to feel fuller longer. Smoking is an oral pleasure for many people. Eating can become a substitute for this. Smoking dulls the senses of smell and taste. As these return, the pleasure of eating may increase. Finally, many use smoking as a way of handling stress. For them, eating can become a substitute method.
You are using product during quitting. This reduces your risk for weight gain. But when you stop using it, you may be at increased risk again.
Preventing Weight Gain – Just Find 50
Weight gain or loss is all about changes in the calories you eat and burn. For example, a small change of only 100 calories/day will result in a 10 pound weight gain over a year. So here's your job:
1. Find 50 calories to cut out of your diet. Do this by looking for sources of fat in your diet that you can eliminate or make a lower fat substitution. Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and higher fiber foods. Finally, watch out for alcohol! It's a source of extra calories. It increases the odds of overeating. And it's a strong smoking trigger for many people.
2. Find 50 more calories that you are willing to add to your activity level. Do this by finding ways to waste calories – take stairs, park farther away, take the dog for a walk. Also add short (5 to 10 minute) blocks of activity, like walking, to your schedule. Fifty calories is about a ½ mile of walking – about 10 minutes.
To find more information about weight control, visit the websites for the American Dietetic Association, the American Obesity Association, or the Weight Loss Information Network.