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Myth: Gaining weight when you quit smoking is inevitable

TRUTH:  There are many causes of weight gain when people quit smoking and usually those who suffer from it are experiencing several of them.  A weight gain of up to 10 pounds is very typical, and it’s usually due to:

  1. Replacing smoking breaks with eating breaks.  Instead of taking a cigarette break, you take a break to get a snack.  Caloires add up quickly and what started as 1 or 2 cigarette breaks can turn into hundreds of calories.
  2. Letting emotional smoking turn into emotional eating.  Many smokers turn to cigarettes in time of stress and perceive smoking to be a relaxing experience (even though nicotine is a stimulant).  Instead of turning to fatty or sugary comfort foods when you’re stressed, try regulating your breathing for a few minutes to calm down.
  3. Believing that quitting smoking decreases your metabolism (aka ‘it’s inevitable, so I won’t fight the weight gain, I’ll enjoy plumpness’).  Weight gain is STILL about calories in vs. calories out.  Smoking doesn’t burn calories or cause your metabolism to increase so much that you burn enough to effect your weight.  Weight gain when you quit smoking does not have to happen.

BOTTOM LINE:  Potential weight gain when quitting smoking can occur; replacing smoking with activities other than eating will help reduce the likeliness of weight gain.  Quitting smoking does not increase sugar or fat cravings but try to be aware of what you’re eating and get plenty of exercise.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  1. Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida: http://www.sc.edu/healthycarolina/pdf/facstaffstu/tobacco/SmokingAndWeight.pdf
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/smoking.htm

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