Individuals who smoke two packets of cigarettes a day gain more weight than those who smoke one packet a day and this weight gain takes place during the first six months in which one quits smoking. So what is the relationship then between quitting smoking and weight gain? Are those who quit smoking destined to gain weight? What are the reasons for weight gain after quitting smoking?
We caught up with Rabia Yurdagül, who is a nutrition and diet expert at the Kadıköy Şifa Hospital. She gave us some very helpful tips on preventing weight gain that accompanies quitting smoking. Energy imbalance: The basic factor in weight gain is the imbalance between energy input and output. The amount of energy required to lose or gain 1 kilogram is 7,000 calories and each 7,000 extra calories we put into our systems results in 1 kilogram of weight gain. Inversely, with each 7,000 calories we expend, we lose 1 kilogram. In this case, finding a balance between the energy gained and the energy spent will help with weight control.
The slowing down of one’s metabolism: The effective ingredient in cigarettes is nicotine, and it increases the speed of one’s metabolism, resulting in our bodies burning more calories. However, this is an extremely unhealthy method of burning calories. When we quit smoking we expend fewer calories, which then increases the likelihood of weight gain. One must engage in physical activities in order to compensate for this gap.
Eating habits and changing them: Following quitting smoking, our sensory abilities to taste and smell return to normal, giving our appetites a nice boost. Our inclination towards desserts and foods with high fat content also increases.
The feeling of needing something in one’s mouth: The feeling of missing the sensation of having something in one’s hand and mouth, results in individuals steering towards constant snacking. This constant snacking then results in an abundance of energy intake. Seeing food as a stress-ridding agent: Cigarettes are consumed for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to preventing stress and worry, rewarding oneself, ridding oneself of the feeling of loneliness, passing time and socializing. An attempt to replace all of this with food is another reason for weight gain.
Form the habit of reading food labels
Form the habit of reading nutritional labels so that you can become aware of the caloric and fat content of foods.
Choose foods that are low in fat.
Choose foods that are low in calories as in-between-meals snacks.
Opt for a balanced diet that includes vegetables and fruits, meat products that are low in fat, as well as dairy products that are low in fat and cereals that balance our blood sugar levels.
Stay away from sugar and sugary products in order to avoid excess calories. If you want to consume sugary foods then opt for natural sweeteners.
Exercise regularly in order to increase your caloric output and suppress your appetite and block your desire to pick up smoking again.
Try to eliminate stressful factors from your life.