Dealing with weight gain

Immediately after quitting smoking, some people find that their metabolism changes and they gain weight. Here's what you need to know.

Embrace your quit attempt as an opportunity to try and bring healthy habits into your daily routine. These can support you in your goal to becoming smoke-free and also help you reduce unwanted weight gain.

If you find that weight gain is setting you back, remember that quitting smoking is a process, where you may need to take stock of what isn’t working, and adjust as you move forward.

Why do some people gain weight?

Nicotine keeps you from feeling hungry and smoking dulls your senses of taste and smell. When you quit smoking, your appetite returns at the same time that your taste buds come back. What’s more, nicotine causes your body to burn slightly more calories.

The result is that all of a sudden you're hungrier, food tastes better and you don’t burn as many calories as you used to. Plus, your body may confuse nicotine cravings for hunger, and you may find yourself snacking when you used to smoke.

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How will you avoid weight gain?

  • Carry a water bottle, and drink water when you feel hungry. Sometimes feelings of hunger can actually be feelings of dehydration, so drinking water before snacking can help take the edge off.
  • Adding moderate exercise to your routine adds up and you don't have to do much. Even adding a 10-minute walk to your day or a few times a week will help boost your metabolism naturally. Exercising can help you reduce stress and realize how your health improves the longer you stay quit. Plan to exercise at times of the day when you used to smoke.
  • You may be tempted to reach for sugary snacks, but try to plan ahead to eat smaller amounts of meals more often. Embrace cooking a healthy meal and enjoy savouring it with your improved sense of taste. Keep healthy snacks, (like fruits, veggies and whole grains,) on hand to replace the feeling of holding a cigarette when you miss it instead of snacking on sugary or high-calorie treats.
  • While gaining weight can feel frustrating, remember the long term health advantages of quitting smoking. Remember that this a much larger process of taking charge of your health and your body. Forgive yourself for weight gain if it happens. Talk to your doctor if balancing quitting with keeping weight off is a concern for you.