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Nutrition and Smoking

With the world constantly changing around us, self distancing and spending more time at home I have found that many individuals I have spoken with lately are making some real positive dietary changes. Eating out less, cooking from scratch, consciously choosing healthier choices. So great to see this “silver lining”.

Why not take the next step. Perhaps you are thinking about quitting smoking? Or you have tried quitting before? Changing any behaviour is not easy and achieving this goal can take a lot of hard work and determination. The good news, there are a lot of supports and resources for you, including The B.C. Smoking Cessation Program. This program helps by covering the cost of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products or contributes to the cost of certain smoking cessation prescription drugs.

Nicotine, a stimulant drug, when stopped can have a number of withdrawal effects on the body. Because nicotine suppresses appetite and speeds up metabolism, increased appetite and weight gain are common side effects. You may start to use food as a substitute for smoking and feel more irritable / anxious and try to comfort yourself with your favourite foods. The good news is your sense of smell and taste becomes enhanced, making food taste soooo good!. Even for foods you may not have enjoyed before. As well, the benefits of stopping smoking usually outweigh the extra pounds. Focusing on being more careful with your eating, exercising regularly, getting plenty of fresh air, deep breathing and adequate sleep can help you make it through this detox period.

Strategies to successfully quit smoking:

  • Your mouth and hands want something to do. Keep them busy without food. Chew on gum or flavoured toothpicks. Hold a book, squeeze a stress ball, draw / colour, pickup a new or old hobby that requires your hands.

  • Take pleasure in nourishing yourself with healthy foods and beverages. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits, good sources of protein and whole grains as well as drinking lots of water.

  • Eating well balanced meals at regular schedule times helps to cut down on cravings. If you want to snack, make sure to have on hand and choose healthy snacks more often. Watch your sugar, caffeine and alcohol intake. All these can make you feel worse.

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is the key! This helps improve your concentration, decreases tiredness, and can ease a headache, dry mouth and sore throat. It also helps with appetite suppression. If you are dehydrated, thirst is often interpreted as hunger.

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