Finally, you have quit smoking! Since I am not Dr. Phil I am not going to reward with a new car for quitting something you were an idiot to do in the first place. Nonetheless I will give you some helpful hints that will prevent the usual weight gain and replenish vitamin stores.
From my experience with smokers, it all begins with familiar stories of peer pressure, recreational smoking or as a weight loss remedy. Then once addicted, the poor smoker becomes victim to his crime, poor thing. The idea of smoking has always been so absurd to me; I have no patience or tolerance for it because it is so harmful.
Nicotine is highly addictive and wreaks havoc on your body with cancer, organ damage and emphysema. Recent studies have shown that smoking activates a gene that is known to cause premature aging. If you are a woman on birth control, it severely raises your risk of heart attacks. You may even pass to menopause earlier than normal.
So let’s get a plan to get back to health, but first this is what you are going to feel (I didn’t say it was going to be easy):
3. Diarrhea or constipation
4. Fatigue and insomnia
5. Irritability anxiety and depression
Smokers also have lower levels of certain vitamins in their bodies, because nicotine has inhibited their absorption. Vitamin C, Vitamin A, calcium and folic acid, all have been depleted. During my research, I have also come across a study that says Vitamin C actually pushes nicotine out of the body initially through urine, which prompts the smoker to reach for a cigarette much sooner to replace the lost nicotine. It is important then to begin Vitamin C supplements when you have truly quit smoking.
Now the bad news, when you quit smoking your metabolic rate lowers from the lack of nicotine, almost two hundred calories worth. Once you quit smoking you also get your taste and smell back, so food will taste even better. On top of that, smoking has given you an oral fixation that most people substitute with food – and, did I mention water retention?
Do not panic, there are ways to prevent weight gain and get your body back in order.
Here’s the plan:
1. Find an alternate stress reliever, yoga, hobbies or therapy.
2. Begin an exercise regime to coincide with your quitting.
3. To substitute for oral fix, try gum or healthy snacks.
4. Begin to cut down on alcohol.
To counteract your metabolic rate decrease (weight gain):
1. Try a green tea supplement to boost your metabolism.
2. Take in more protein in form of lean meat.
3. Flush your system with fiber.
To replenish your vitamin stores:
1. Vitamin C 1000mg and fresh fruit.
2. Folic acid and leafy greens.
3. Calcium and plain low fat yogurt.
4. B-complex, to reduce stress and irritability.
Remember, it is a tough road but you owe it to yourself. You will feel better and look great. Don’t let yourself down this time, learn from your mistake and take your body back under your own control.
Fiorella DiCarlo RD, RDN, CDN