Here's a piece of good news for smokers looking to quit: Weight gain doesn't have to come with smoking cessation! Many would-be ex-smokers are afraid to quit for good, and up to 90 percent of them cite worries about weight gain as the reason. Luckily, understanding why weight gain follows from smoking cessation can often prevent it from happening! Nicotine is a stimulant, and may interfere with the body's release of the hormone insulin. Insulin is vital because it controls the release of glucose, the body's main source of energy. When insulin is blocked and less glucose is released, your body responds by slowing down the hormones that trigger the feelings of hunger. In this way, nicotine works as an appetite-suppressant. When you stop smoking, the appetite-suppressing action of nicotine stops too, and you will often end up consuming more calories. In addition, many smokers smoke when non-smokers might eat, like during the second course of a meal. Once you eliminate cigarettes however, you may find yourself reaching for that extra helping to help fill the time where you once smoked. It IS heartening to note that most smokers who give up the habit tend to gain just 5 to 8 poundsa small amount compared to the great benefits of quitting! Luckily, avoiding even this miniscule weight gain is possible with some proactive steps! One of the best ways to avoid putting on weight is to take up regular exercise. If you're a long-time smoker, you may have trouble with highly aerobic work-outs, and that's okay. Just a half hour of exercise three days a week is a great startand brisk walking counts! Because smoking cessation takes so much time and effort, it may be best to begin a regular exercise program a month or two before you quit. Certainly, a healthy diet is an important part of avoiding weight gain. Recognize that you may be unable to curb the urge to snack, and have healthy options available to you. Vegetable sticks, apple slices, sunflower seeds and popcorn are all low-fat, crunchy options. And keep sugarless gum, mints, or candy on hand for when you're out-and-about. What you drink also matters. As much as possible, avoid alcoholic beverages. Not only do they provide hundreds of empty calories, for many smokers, alcohol is a huge trigger to light up.It's also helpful to drink plenty of calorie-free liquids throughout the day. They fill you up and can help you burn those extra calories. Finally, prepare for moments when you'll be tempted to eat too much, like at BBQ or at an all-you-can eat buffet, and avoid them if you can. Quitting smoking is hard, and many people worry about their weight. However, preparing for the possibility that you'll gain a pound or two can help you ensure that you don't!
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012