What should I expect during meals while trying to quit smoking?

Smoking affects your weight by decreasing your appetite through its stimulant effects and lowering your metabolism to a small extent. Once you quit smoking, your weight may initially increase, due to an increase in your appetite and a slight lowering of your metabolism. You will also notice an improvement in your taste perception and this may also cause you to eat more. Food can be used as a substitute for tobacco; therefore, snacking can cause further weight gain. It is advisable to maintain a healthy lifestyle while you quit smoking to avoid gaining weight during this process. Substituting exercise for smoking and choosing healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables should be a part of your tobacco cessation plan.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
When you stop smoking, your senses are roused from hibernation. Food tastes better because smoking deadens your taste buds and your ability to smell. You also aren't flying out of your chair to have a smoke the moment you put your fork down, which gives you time to savor the meal longer. You may also notice that you're more interested in sweets. Smokers tend to have less of a sweet tooth, so when you stop, you may stir up your sweet centers. You may also find yourself eating more food to satisfy your need for oral gratification now that you don't have a cigarette in your mouth. You can minimize weight gain by choosing healthy snacks such as carrot sticks, or a piece of fruit to satisfy that sugar craving.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
While you're trying to quit smoking, you'll probably notice that your food tastes better. That's because your taste buds, dulled by years of tobacco use, are reviving and letting you truly taste your food again. While that's happening, you may notice some other changes as well, such as a powerful craving for sweet foods. You're already fighting the craving for nicotine, so give in to the sweets craving. Go for sugar-free choices if possible, especially if you need to watch your blood sugar. The desire for sweets is temporary and usually passes within a week or so.

Here are some things to watch for:

Smoking urges may be stronger at different meal times—sometimes breakfast, sometimes lunch, or sometimes dinner. Your smoking urges may be stronger with certain foods, such as spicy or sweet meals or snacks. Expect to want to smoke after meals or with others at a restaurant. Expect the urge to smoke when you smell cigarette smoke at a restaurant. When you no longer smoke at the table after meals, you can expect that others will be pleased.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.