Can eating affect your success in staying smoke free? The answer is no...and yes. No, there are no magic diets that will take away all urges to smoke. But your food choices affect your health, energy level, ability to manage stress, and your weight. Your decision to quit smoking is a testament to your desire for better health and an improved quality of life. Every pro-health choice you make is a reminder of your decision to be healthy and smoke free. So healthy eating can support smoking cessation.
There are three reasons that healthy eating is important for ex-smokers. It's a way to minimize, or even prevent weight gain that often accompanies quitting. It's a way to maintain good health while continuing to provide oral satisfaction important to many smokers. And good nutrition is an important way to reduce stress and improve energy.
Healthy Eating - Back to the Basics
Many books have been written about how to eat for good health. But it really comes down to common sense. Here are some general guidelines:
Unbalanced diets are usually unhealthy. The USDA Food Guide Pyramid is a good way to approach your daily food choices.
Watch out for excess fats (especially from meats, dairy products, and fats added in food preparation) and sugars. These provide excess calories, resulting in weight gain. (See also week 11)
Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These are great, low-fat, sources of nutrients and fiber. Fruits and vegetables, in particular, are helpful for weight control. Have 5 to 9 servings daily.
Cut down on alcohol – a source of empty calories and often a trigger for smoking.
What About Vitamins and Minerals?
Smoking depletes vitamins C and A. But now that you are not smoking, eating according to the guidelines above, will, in most cases, provide for all of your vitamin and mineral needs. However, since most people aren't perfect in their food choices, taking a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement is reasonable insurance that you will get everything you need.