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Avoiding weight gain after smoking free weight loss tips for exsmokers


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Although you might gain a very small amount of weight after quitting smoking, given the risks of smoking versus the very small risk of slight weight gain, you still want to quit. Here are free and simple steps from NIH that can help deal with weight gain after quitting smoking.

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Avoiding weight gain after smoking free weight loss tips for exsmokers

  1. 1. You Can ControlYour Weight as YouQuit SmokingWeight-control Information NetworkWIN Weight-control Information NetworkU.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTHAND HUMAN SERVICESNATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTHCongratulations on your decision to quit smoking! Quitting isone of the best actions you can take to improve your health. Youmay be concerned about gaining weight, but try not to worryabout it as you quit. Focus on stopping smoking first, and thencontinue to improve your health in other ways, such as reachingand maintaining a healthy weight for life.Will I gain weight if I stop smoking?Not everyone gains weight when they stop smoking. Amongpeople who do, the average weight gain is less than 10 pounds.Roughly 10 percent of people who stop smoking gain a largeamount of weight—as many as 30 pounds.What causes weight gain after quitting?When smokers quit, they may gain weight for a number ofreasons. These include:• Feeling hungry. Quitting smoking may make a person feelhungrier and eat more than usual, but this feeling usually goesaway after several weeks.• Having more snacks and alcoholic drinks. Some people eatmore high-fat, high-sugar snacks and drink more alcoholicbeverages after they quit smoking.• Burning calories at a normal rate again. Every cigaretteyou smoke makes your body burn calories faster, but is alsoharmful to your heart. Once you quit, you are no longergetting this temporary effect. Instead, you are burning slightlyfewer calories on a daily basis.Do you want toquit smoking?Are you worriedabout gainingweight? If so,this informationmay help you.
  2. 2. 2Can I avoid weight gain?Physical activity and a healthy eating plan may help youcontrol your weight. In addition, being physically active mayease withdrawal symptoms during smoking cessation and helpreduce the chances of relapsing after quitting.While it is a good idea to be physically active and eat healthyfoods as you quit smoking, try not to worry about your weight.It may be easier to quit first and focus on controlling yourweight when you are smoke-free.To lower your chances of gaining weight when you stopsmoking:• Accept yourself.• Get regular, moderate-intensity physical activity.• Limit snacking and alcohol.• Consider using medication to help you quit.• Consider getting professional advice about weight control.Accept yourself.If you gain a few pounds when you quit, do not dwell onit. Instead, feel proud that you are improving your health.Quitting smoking may make you feel better in many ways.Quitting smoking may help you have:• more energy• whiter teeth• fresher breath and fresher smelling clothes and hair• fewer wrinkles and healthier-looking skin• a clearer voiceIf you gain afew poundswhen you quit,do not dwell onit. Instead, feelproud that youare improvingyour health.
  3. 3. 3Get regular, moderate-intensity physical activity.Regular physical activity may help you avoid large weight gainswhen you quit smoking. It may also boost your mood andhelp you feel more energetic. It is likely that you will be able tobreathe easier during physical activity after you quit smoking.Aim to be physically active at a moderate-intensity level (onethat makes you breathe harder but does not overwork oroverheat you) on most, if not all, days of the week. You canaccomplish this by breaking it up into shorter sessions—it doesnot need to be done all at once. After you quit smoking andare ready to lose weight, you may need to increase the amountof time that you are physically active each day or increase yourintensity level to achieve your weight-loss goals. The ideasbelow may help you to be active.Ideas for Being Active Every Day• Use your lunch break to walk around and stretch, or take a walk after dinner.• Sign up for a class such as dance or yoga. Ask a friend tojoin you.• Get off the bus one stop early if you are in an area safe for walking.• Park the car farther away from entrances to stores, movie theaters, or your home.• Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make sure the stairsare well lit.Limit snacking and alcohol.Having more high-fat, high-sugar snacks and alcoholic drinksmay lead to weight gain when you quit smoking. The ideas onthe next page may help you make healthy eating and beveragechoices as you quit smoking.Regular physicalactivity may helpyou avoid largeweight gainswhen you quitsmoking.
  4. 4. 4Tips for Healthy Eating and Beverage Selections as You Quit• Do not go too long without eating. Being very hungry may lead to less healthy food choices.• Eat enough at meals to satisfy you, but try not to overeat.Eat slowly so you can pick up on your body’s signals thatyou are full.• Choose healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit or canned fruitpacked in its own juices, low-fat air-popped popcorn, orlow-fat yogurt when you are hungry between meals.• Do not deny yourself an occasional treat. If you crave icecream, enjoy a small serving, which is 1/2 cup.• Choose an herbal tea, hot cocoa made with fat-free milk, orsparkling water instead of an alcoholic beverage.Consider using medication to help you quit.Talk to your health care provider about medications that mayhelp you quit smoking. Some people gain less weight whenthey use medication.Medications That May Help You Quit Smoking• Nicotine replacement therapy, including the patch, gum,lozenges, nasal spray, and inhaler.• Antidepressant medication.The patch, lozenges, and gum are available without aprescription from your health care provider.Consider getting professional advice aboutweight control.You may find it easier to control your weight with the helpof a health professional. Ask your health care provider if thereis a weight-management program in your area. Also, considerspeaking with a registered dietitian, nutritionist, personaltrainer, or exercise professional about becoming physicallyactive and adopting a healthy eating plan. You may need tocontact your health insurer to make sure weight-managementservices are covered by your plan.Choose healthysnacks, such asfresh fruit orcanned fruitpacked in itsown juices, low-fat air-poppedpopcorn, or low-fat yogurt whenyou are hungrybetween meals.
  5. 5. 5Will weight gain hurt my health?Although gaining weight is not desired after you stop smoking,keep in mind that the overall health benefits of quittingoutweigh the health risks of weight gain.Health Risks of Smoking• Cancer. Smoking greatly increases the risk for lung cancer,the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.Smoking is also linked to cancer of the esophagus, larynx,kidney, pancreas, and cervix.• Other health problems. Smoking increases the risk for lungdisease and heart disease. In pregnant women, smoking islinked to premature birth, babies with low birth weight, anddelivery complications.By quitting smoking, you are taking a big step to improveyour health. Instead of worrying about weight gain, focus onquitting. Once you are tobacco-free, you can work towardhaving a healthy weight for life by becoming more physicallyactive and choosing healthier foods.Additional Reading From the Weight-controlInformation NetworkActive at Any Size. National Institutes of Health (NIH)Publication No. 10–4352. Health and You. NIH Publication No. 08–4992(available in English and Spanish). Your Habits: Steps to Better Health. NIH PublicationNo. 08–6444. Yourself and Your Family. NIH Publication No.08–4926. quittingsmoking, youare taking abig step toimprove yourhealth. Insteadof worryingabout weightgain, focus onquitting.
  6. 6. 6Just Enough for You: About Food Portions. NIH Publication No. 09–5287. Step in the Right Direction. NIH Publication No. 07–4155. ResourcesAgency for Healthcare Research and QualityAHCPR Supported Clinical Practice Guidelines, 18. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence:2008 Update. Available online at Department of Health and Human ServicesPhysical Activity Guidelines for Americans. October 2008. Available online at Department of AgricultureChooseMyPlate. More information and interactive tools on healthy eating and physicalactivity are available at more information on quitting smoking, contact:American Cancer SocietyPhone: 1–800–ACS–2345(800–227–2345)http://www.cancer.orgAmerican Heart AssociationPhone: 1–800–AHA–USA1(800–242–8721)http://www.americanheart.orgAmerican Lung AssociationPhone: 1–800–LUNGUSA(800–586–4872)http://www.lungusa.orgNational Cancer InstitutePhone: 1–800–4–CANCER(800–422–6237)
  7. 7. 7National Institute on Drug AbusePhone: (301) 443–1124http://www.nida.nih.govOffice of the Surgeon GeneralPhone: (301) 443–4000 partnership of the American Cancer Society, theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, and theNational Cancer Institute)Phone: 1–877–44U–QUIT (877–448–7848)Phone for help within your State:1–800–QUITNOW (800–784–8669)http://www.smokefree.govWeight-controlInformationNetwork1 WIN WayBethesda, MD 20892–3665Phone:(202) 828–1025Toll-free number:1–877–946–4627FAX: (202) 828–1028Email:WIN@info.niddk.nih.govInternet: Weight-control InformationNetwork (WIN) is a national informa-tion service of the National Instituteof Diabetes and Digestive and KidneyDiseases (NIDDK) of the NationalInstitutes of Health, which is theFederal Government’s lead agencyresponsible for biomedical research onnutrition and obesity. Authorized byCongress (Public Law 103-43), WINprovides the general public, healthprofessionals, the media, and Congresswith up-to-date, science-based healthinformation on weight control, obesity,physical activity, and related nutritionalissues.Publications produced by WIN arereviewed by both NIDDK scientistsand outside experts. This fact sheet wasalso reviewed by Robert Eckel, M.D.,Professor of Medicine, Physiology, andBiophysics, University of ColoradoHealth Sciences Center.This fact sheet is also available at text is not copyrighted.WIN encourages unlimitedduplication and distributionof this fact sheet.NIH Publication Number No. 03–4159Updated February 2010