Readers Are Asking: Should I Lose Weight Before I Quit Smoking?
By Lynn Goulding Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Everyone keeps telling me to just quit smoking, but I made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and I know people gain weight when they try to quit. I think being overweight is worse than smoking. What should I do: lose weight first and then try to quit smoking or the opposite?
While many people do gain weight when they quit smoking, it is healthier to quit smoking now! While not everyone gains weight when they quit smoking, a few factors can cause some people to gain. Nicotine is an appetite suppressant, so lighting up frequently can reduce the urge to snack and feelings of hunger. When someone quits smoking, food can often be a substitute for some of the behaviors that we associate with smoking, like the hand to mouth activity that one uses when one smokes. One tip that works for some people is to have a straw or coffee stirrer nearby to hold in place of a cigarette.
You are not alone, many people worry about gaining weight when they quit smoking. Planning ahead for a quit date is the first step to a healthier life and many people have found new energy to be more physical once they quit. Just as planning to quit smoking, planning ahead to have healthy snacks available (vegetable sticks, fat free popcorn, water) or other strategies is a good step towards making this year about you and your health.
The American Lung Association says: “Some people do gain a few pounds when they quit smoking. But following a healthy eating plan and increasing physical activity will help you manage your weight. Even if you gain some weight after quitting, you can lose it later and you’ll still be healthier than when you were smoking.”
Research shows that getting support, planning for a quit date and strategies for the days, weeks ahead after quitting, can greatly increase your success for quitting! You do not have to do this alone. NVRH offers classes to support your goal of being tobacco-free. Current classes are online – call to sign up for the next round, Freedom From Smoking class, scheduled for March 16 at 802-748-9405. Ext. 1026 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also go to VT 802-Quits at 802quits.org for supports, nicotine replacement products, and other information on making this the final quit attempt.
For one-on-one support, call Community Connections at 748-7526 to speak with either Lew or Lynn, our Tobacco Treatment specialists.