If you are a smoker, then quitting is at the top of your to-do list. However, as you may be aware, quitting smoking is nowhere near easy. Nicotine addiction is one of the hardest habits to kick, and while there are plenty of benefits when you actually do toss them in the trash this winter, there is one downside that is scary enough to keep a lot of people from even trying to quit, weight gain.
The nicotine in cigarettes is not just highly addictive
Due to its nature as a stimulant, nicotine does more than affect our brains. It also increases our metabolism, which means more calories burned, and therefore a slimmer figure.
But there are many issues at play when smoking, because smoking is like any enjoyable activity, increases dopamine production in the brain. When people begin to deprive themselves of their ritualistic cigarettes, they all too often find that their urges to smoke get vicious and fast. Which is bad enough by itself, but in that problem lies another, because food (especially sweets and treats) also triggers dopamine surges. When your brain gets the idea that it is not getting dopamine from its regular supplier, then it tries to get it from somewhere else. As a result, you begin to crave food far more than you used to.
If things weren’t bad enough, there is another issue that comes up when quitting smoking. Habits die hard, and our minds quickly want to find a replacement to fill both the time and feeling. And unfortunately, smoking is an oral fixation. Our brains struggle to fill this hole with something as similar as possible, which the nearest use of our mouths is of course eating.
There are solutions for each problem
It is just a matter of having them ready when the time comes. The first issue, an increased metabolism, is solvable with a few dietary changes. Cutting just a few calories a day can make a big impact in the amount of weight we carry around our midsections. Avoiding sugary drinks, and dense calorie food is usually enough to give you the boost you need to keep the weight from piling on.
The second problem requires some foresight. Seeing as our brains seek dopamine, you are going to need to have a replacement habit on hand and ready to go when you need it. Just remember to make it something you enjoy which also doesn’t involve adding calories to your diet. This could be playing a game, listening to music, watching a few YouTube videos, it doesn’t really matter so long as you enjoy the behaviour.
The third problem is a bit trickier, although there has been a solution that a lot of people have used with great success. If you are trying to replace an orally fixated habit, then there is one that is far better for your health than smoking, which is chewing gum. With almost no calories, you can distract your brain by engaging in a similar habit, which if you like chewing gum anyway can solve the dopamine problem as well. If you are not a fan of gum, there are other options of course, such as chewing tooth picks, brushing your teeth after meals, etc… The trick is to find something that works for you.
If you need more advice on kicking the habit for good, then please contact us. We would be more than happy to help you live a better life.