How can I avoid gaining weight once I quit smoking?

One reason why many women are afraid to quit smoking is weight gain within the first year of quitting (smoking suppresses appetite). Women gain an average of about 10 pounds after they quit, but you can avoid this by ensuring that you eat healthy meals and exercise regularly after you stop.
Smoking can be an appetizer suppressant, so some people have noticed weight gain because of increased appetite after stopping smoking. To ensure that this does not occur, it is important to watch what you eat and watch your caloric intake. Increased physical activity and a healthy diet are the most important things to think about.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
For many smokers, kicking the habit seems like a lousy tradeoff. That's because cleaner lungs and a healthier heart can come at a cost: bigger hips and thighs. It's true that people who quit smoking often gain weight. Although that can be the case if you don't start eating more, it's also true that some people replace cigarettes with candy and other junk food.

Following some good habits can help you avoid weight gain when you give up cigarettes. The American Cancer Society recommends the following:
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Avoid high-fat foods.
  • Get some exercise. Walking is an excellent form of physical activity, though you may prefer some other exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times or more each week. 
  • Get plenty of sleep. 
  • Drink lots of water. 
  • Control stress. You're more likely to crave a smoke when you feel uptight. Try meditation, yoga, prayer or whatever works for you.
Above all, don't worry too much about weight gain. If you put on excess baggage after quitting, it will probably be less than 10 pounds. Once you've kicked butts, you can work on shedding the poundage.
Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine
Oral gratification is a habit, so when you quit smoking, you need to replace that habit with healthy food choices to avoid gaining weight. Stock your fridge with some low-calorie, crunchy and delicious snacks like carrot sticks with hummus or apple slices or any fruit or vegetable. Additionally, suck on sour hard candies the first week or two.
Smoking kills taste buds, so when you quit smoking, food begins to taste better, and you may want to eat more. Happily, all foods taste better, not only the high-fat/high-calorie ones, so be proactive with your available food choices.
And don't forget exercise. Getting and keeping your heart rate up for 30 minutes per day is equal to a low dose of an antidepressant medicine, so exercise will not only balance extra calories consumed, but will make you happy and less irritable.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
If there is one concern about quitting cigarettes I hear more than any other, it's weight gain. Somehow all the benefits of giving up cigarettes don't seem to matter when compared to putting on some pounds. It's true that many people do gain weight when they quit smoking, but the gain is usually no more than ten pounds. In the bigger picture, a smallish weight gain is very minor compared to the very large health benefits of giving up the butts. 
Irwin Isaacs
Make a specific plan to eat sensibly while giving up smoking.
Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine
The truth is that it has never really been proven that you gain weight when you quit smoking. If you look over the studies with Chantix, that there really wasn't any true weight gain. The problem is that food tastes a lot better because you are not roasting your taste buds anymore and secondly you need to find other activities that you used to do when you smoked. A lot of times if you went out for a walk or ate something healthy or did something to entertain you instead of smoking a cigarette, that would really work.

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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.