Giving up Smoking…. but worried about Weight Increase?
While many people have given up since Brits were banned from lighting up in public places nearly three years ago, there are still 11 million smokers in the UK. According to government figures, almost three-quarters of them would like to stop smoking, but often one of the biggest concerns is gaining weight if they do quit.
And they have reason to worry as scientists at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, report that people who quit smoking are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes within six years as continuing smokers, and up to 70 per cent more likely than non-smokers. The researchers suspect the increased diabetes risk comes from extra weight gain common in people who quit.
The scientists say that would-be quitters should be offered advice on diet and exercise to avoid gaining weight.
Local weight loss expert Liz Torrie, who runs Slimming World groups in Ipswich, agrees: “Smoking acts as an appetite suppressant, and many smokers who try quitting turn to food for comfort. At Slimming World, we can help people to stop smoking without gaining weight by providing a healthy eating plan that won’t leave you hungry and a supportive group environment.”
There are several common factors associated with giving up smoking that can potentially lead to weight gain:
• Food is full of flavour again. As taste buds come ‘alive’ again, many ex-smokers could find themselves eating more through a new-found enjoyment of food. Also where cigarettes may have previously been used as a meal ‘replacement’, for example instead of breakfast, then the addition of an extra meal per day may lead to weight gain.
• Switching cigarettes for snacks. Food and snacks are sometimes used as a replacement for the physical hand-to-mouth action used when smoking.
• Cravings. The ‘empty’ feeling which nicotine withdrawal can bring can feel similar to the feeling of a hunger pangs and so encourage you to eat more.
“But” says Liz, “Weight gain needn’t be an unwanted side effect of stopping smoking. Anyone can be successful at both giving up smoking and maintaining a healthy weight if they get great support combined with regular activity and a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in sugar, salt and fat.
“For anyone concerned about weight gain, a good place to start is joining a warm and supportive slimming group like Slimming World, where smokers can get help to start new healthy eating and lifestyle habits at the same time as quitting,” adds Liz.
“The motivational techniques that Slimming World members gain through shared experience to help them lose weight successfully can be just as effective if applied to smoking. Strategies like setting a target, deciding when you’re going to stop, writing a ‘for and against’ list or keeping a diary are extremely powerful when used in combination with a support group to help with behaviour change,” she adds.
• For more information about Slimming World groups in Ipswich call Slimming World Consultant Liz Torrie on 01473 728380. Liz is a Slimming World consultant and therefore if you are concerned about any possible health implications you should always consult your doctor.