chocolate or apple

Preventing Weight Gain and Staying Fit While Quitting Smoking

Do you fear that you may gain weight when you quit smoking? Some find that they gain between 6 to 10 pounds when they give up smoking. It is best not to try to lose weight and quit smoking at the same time. Gaining weight may discourage you from quitting altogether and may cause additional stress and frustration. Neither is helpful when you’re trying to make a healthy lifestyle change.

What Might Cause You to Gain Weight When You Quit Smoking?

  • Nicotine decreases your appetite, so it may increase after quitting. Food is sometimes substituted for smoking and used as a reward. Weight gain may occur when cigarettes are replaced with food.
  • Many people tend to crave sweets after quitting.
  • A cigarette usually marks the end of a meal. After quitting, you may find yourself having extra helpings of food or turning to dessert instead of a cigarette after eating.
  • Food may smell and taste better after you quit because you are no longer tasting the smoke of cigarettes.

Tips to prevent weight gain

  • Develop a new way to end your meal.
  • Replace cigarettes with fresh vegetable sticks.
  • Decrease the amount of sugar in your diet.
  • Use low-calorie or no-calorie snacks, candy, or gum.
  • Start drinking more water to feel full. Drink a glass of water before meals.
  • Stay away from fast food restaurants.
  • Reduce the amount of fat in your diet.
  • Avoid alcohol, high-calorie juices, and soda.
  • Eat breakfast. Your body will burn more calories during the day if you eat at least some breakfast.
  • Find ways to fit exercise into your daily routine (check with your doctor before making major changes in your exercise level). Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or join a fun exercise class.

Having a healthy lifestyle is important. For more tips about staying healthy, check out our Journey to a Smoke Free Life booklet. You can also enroll in a Smoking Cessation program at many of our UPMC facilities.