It’s no surprise that your body can start feeling much more energised after you go through your quit journey. But, before anything, you may experience some challenging changes first – such as gaining weight and eating a lot more than usual.
After you quit smoking, food will taste a lot better. The chicken parmi (or parma) you’ve just had might have tasted better because your taste buds have started to repair themselves. It’s also normal to eat more as you’re going through nicotine withdrawal.
But, if you find yourself eating higher volumes, it’s important to make sure you’re eating the right food during your quit journey – junk food and snacking can be quite irresistible while you’re avoiding the ciggies.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what your quit smoking diet can look like to keep you healthy and give your body the nutrients it needs to keep it in good shape.
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Staying well-hydrated is essential during the quitting process. Water helps flush out toxins from your body and actually aids in reducing cravings by making you feel full.
Drinking water consistently throughout the day can help alleviate common withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability and headaches. Aim for at least eight glasses of water a day, and consider incorporating herbal teas or infused water for added flavour and hydration benefits.
We recommended herbal teas because drinking plain water all the time can become boring. Herbal teas have little to no caffeine content (commonly found in traditional tea and coffee). Also, infusing your water with slices of fruits like citrus or cucumber not only enhances the taste but also adds a refreshing twist.
Fruits and Vegetables
Colourful fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and essential vitamins that repair cellular damage caused by the chemicals in cigarette smoke. Now that you’re on a smoking cessation journey, fruits and veggies can do their job much more effectively in recovering your body.
Include a variety of berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables in your daily meals to boost your immune system and overall well-being.
Opt for whole grains over refined carbohydrates to provide a steady release of energy and combat potential mood swings associated with nicotine withdrawal. While white bread and rice might be tastier for some, consuming them in large amounts will add greatly to your weight.
Brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat products are excellent choices that also offer fibre, aiding in digestion and helping manage post-quit weight.
Proteins play a crucial role in repairing tissues and supporting muscle health. Including them in your diet can also contribute to a feeling of fullness, reducing the likelihood of reaching for unhealthy snacks.
The best sources of lean protein include poultry such as chicken and turkey, fish like salmon and tuna, tofu, legumes such as lentils and beans, and low-fat dairy or soy products.
While steaks and burgers are also protein sources, they contain plenty of fat and carbohydrates that can increase your weight in large amounts (but do consider eating what you like once in a while for emotional and psychological benefits).
Speaking of fats, eating them can be okay as long as they’re from healthy sources.
Choose sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. These fats support brain function and can help alleviate mood swings. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon have anti-inflammatory properties, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.
While these fat sources are healthy, keep in mind that a balanced intake of carbohydrates, fat, and proteins is far more important than just sticking to eating only healthy fat.
It’s easy to jump right into a new addiction right after you quit smoking. As much as possible, fight the urge to just eat anything, and if you have to eat to keep your mind off the ciggies, make sure to snack smartly.
Combat the urge to snack on unhealthy foods by having nutritious snacks readily available. If you have time during weekends, prepare them in advance.
Consider options like sliced vegetables with hummus, Greek yoghurt with berries, or a handful of nuts. These snacks not only satisfy cravings but also provide essential nutrients to support your body’s healing process.
No Excessive Caffeine and Alcohol
While moderate amounts of caffeine can provide a much-needed energy boost, excessive intake can contribute to anxiety and sleep disturbances – common challenges during the quitting process.
Furthermore, caffeine is also easily addictive. Your caffeine intake can easily increase once you feel the ‘high’ after consuming it. Keeping this under control can be challenging, especially if you’re still going through withdrawals.
Similarly, alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns. Studies have shown that high alcohol consumption is linked to increased cigarette cravings. As much as possible, avoid both of these two during your quit journey.
Seek Professional Guidance
GPs have helped many motivated smokers quit the habit for good, and they’ve certainly handled many patients who want to reduce weight gain while managing their nicotine withdrawals and quitting smoking.
With a GP’s help, you can use the right dose of NRT tools or even use pharmacy nicotine vaping products (NVPs) to help you manage your nicotine withdrawals. With that area covered, you can eat healthily while reducing the stress of cigarette cravings.
Quitting smoking is the best path towards a healthy and fulfilling life. But eating just about anything isn’t the answer. The right food will keep you in good shape and help with your recovery throughout the quitting process.
We understand that quitting smoking and managing your diet can be quite challenging, but that’s where we can help.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good.