Blog Nutrition The Best Foods To Help Quit Smoking (And The Worst Ones)

The Best Foods To Help Quit Smoking (And The Worst Ones)

Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there are lifestyle changes that can help you quit smoking for good. By making some simple changes to your diet, you’ll be on the road to quitting for good. The best foods are healthy, nourishing, and filling. The idea is to satiate your hunger and avoid triggers while giving your body all the nutrients it needs. Foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats help you stay full longer while also making you less likely to have food cravings. Gulping down a quick cup of coffee or soda might be enough to quench your thirst but will actually leave you feeling hungry or thirsty shortly after.

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Here are eight foods that can make it easier to quit smoking and five foods to avoid:

Foods To Eat While Quitting Smoking

Here are the best food choices for smokers:

Garlic And Onions

Garlic and onions contain an amino acid called cysteine, which is known to break up mucus in the lungs. This can help reduce coughing and irritation when quitting smoking (3).

Vegetables such as onions, garlic, and leeks are also packed with vitamin C, which supports the immune system and may help the body recover from the damage caused by cigarettes (17).

Tofu

Tofu is a healthy protein that might help reduce withdrawal symptoms, including cravings. It contains the amino acid L-glutamine, which is sometimes considered conditionally essential during times of stress (13).

Fruits And Vegetables 

Smokers tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables than non-smokers. This may be because eating worsens the taste of cigarettes, according to one study (4). 

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But when you quit smoking, it’s important to increase the number of fruits and vegetables your body is getting. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants like vitamins A and C, which can help reduce damage caused by free radicals (4).

Whole-Grain Products

Eating whole grains, such as brown rice or oatmeal, which contain a lot of fiber, can help ease constipation and fight weight gain (18).

foods to help quit smoking

Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice is high in melatonin and vitamin C, both of which may help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns and improve mood. Drinking tart cherry juice or eating cherries may reduce feelings of anxiety that are often associated with cigarette cravings (1).

Read More: Cherries Nutrition Facts And Health Benefits: 7 Reasons Why You Need This Superfood In Your Grocery List

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is another food that can help with cravings because it may mimic the effect of insulin or improve insulin sensitivity which helps improve blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels are often associated with cigarette cravings, so cinnamon can help fight this (7).

Frozen Grapes 

Quitting smoking can lead to cravings for sweets. To fight those cravings, try eating frozen grapes. The coldness of the grapes will reduce cigarette cravings.

Popcorn  

Quitting smoking may trigger cravings for snacks. Popcorn, especially the air-popped variety,  can help satisfy those cravings. Air-popped popcorn is low in calories, which will help reduce the risk of weight gain after quitting smoking (8). 

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Top Healthy Foods To Eat Every Day: Diet Staples That Are A Must-Have In Everyone’s Kitchen

High-Fiber Foods

High fiber foods improve digestion while keeping your blood sugar stabilized, which helps keep energy levels high and cravings under control (11). Some examples of high-fiber foods include broccoli, almonds, and lentils.

foods to help quit smoking

Eggs 

Eggs contain high amounts of choline, which is shown to improve the brain’s ability to learn while supporting overall mental health and memory. Choline may also help reduce cravings for nicotine (15).

Green Tea 

Green tea contains an amino acid known as L-theanine, which reduces stress and anxiety and may help smokers quit smoking. L-theanine also has the potential to improve overall mental health and sleep quality (5). 

Foods To Avoid When Quitting Smoking

Smokers tend to eat a lot of unhealthy foods, but quitting should be an opportunity to completely revamp your diet

Here are the foods that you should avoid when quitting smoking:

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Caffeine

Avoid caffeine because it can make your body more jittery and irritable after quitting smoking. Caffeine is also associated with cravings and cigarette use, which might make it more difficult to quit (12).

Processed Foods

Avoid processed foods because they contain high amounts of sodium and saturated fats, both of which can contribute to health problems (16). Furthermore, processed foods don’t contain the necessary vitamins and minerals that can help fight withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol

Alcohol is another beverage to avoid when quitting smoking because it dehydrates the body and reduces inhibitions, which can lead to more intense cravings for cigarettes. It also contains empty calories that will only reduce your overall health while you quit smoking (10).

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Sugar

Quitting smoking can lead to sugar cravings, so avoid foods that contain high amounts of sugar. Sugary foods will give you a short burst of energy but can also create other health problems, such as weight gain and high blood pressure (14).

Low-Calorie Diet Foods 

Don’t follow a diet that is low in calories. This can cause fatigue, irritability, and depression (6). When quitting smoking, it’s important to nourish the body with healthy foods that will not only give you energy but also help fight withdrawal symptoms.

foods to help quit smoking

How To Get Through The Rough Spots After Quitting Smoking?

While eating healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy ones is a great idea, you might still struggle with the temptation of cigarettes. 

Here are a few tips to help you overcome temptation and stay clean:

Spend Time In Smoke-Free Environments 

There are various places where tobacco products are not allowed, such as bars, restaurants, and malls. Spend time in places like this because they contain people who don’t smoke – or at least, you won’t be tempted to light up if the people around you aren’t smoking either.

Practice More Self Care 

In the days following your last cigarette, you might feel exhausted because the body is healing from nicotine withdrawal. Practice more self-care by taking a long bath or going for a walk to help improve your overall mental and physical health after quitting smoking.

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10 Low-Calorie Lunch Recipes For Weight Loss: Proof That Less Calories Doesn't Mean Less Flavor

Exercise To Improve Your Mood 

When quitting smoking, it’s also important to exercise to improve your mood and overall health. Start with something simple like taking a walk every day while you’re quitting smoking and then begin exercising after your cravings are under control.

Exercise releases endorphins in the body, which not only improve your mood but also help you overcome urges to smoke cigarettes.

Chew On Something

When you miss the feeling of having something in your mouth, chew on a cinnamon stick, sugarless gum, sugarless hard candy, or anything else that will give your mouth something to do.

foods to help quit smoking

Read More: Detox Your Lymphatic System: 15 Ways To Boost Your Body’s Detoxification Ability

Create New Habits And Routine

After quitting smoking, make an effort to create new habits and routines in the same way you used to smoke cigarettes. For example, take a walk after meals if it’s your routine to smoke a cigarette after breakfast. The key is to not replace cigarettes with other unhealthy habits like drinking sugary beverages or eating fast food.

Practice Mindfulness Meditation

When you quit smoking, it’s easy to beat yourself up for feeling overwhelmed and guilt-ridden. However, practicing mindfulness meditation can help improve both your mental and physical health after finally breaking the habit.

Mindfulness meditation establishes a connection between mind and body so that you can feel better and gain control of your urges and cravings. It also gives you time to reflect on your progress and be proud of that progress.

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Studies show that mindfulness meditation can help smokers quit by improving their ability to focus, manage stress, improve self-esteem and reduce weight gain after quitting smoking (2).

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Be Patient 

Quitting is a learning process and it will take time to adjust. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be patient and take care of your mind and body as you go through the process of quitting smoking.

Stay Away From Smoking Friends 

When you quit smoking, avoid hanging out with people who smoke or going to places where there is a high chance that someone will light up. This will help you avoid the temptation of picking up another cigarette and starting the habit all over again.

The Bottom Line

Even though quitting smoking is one of the best things that you can do for your overall health, it’s still a difficult journey because quitting triggers nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, eating healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy ones can help you stay on the path toward a clean and smoke-free life.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries (2018, nih.gov)
  2. Brief mediation training induces smoking reduction (2013, nih.gov)
  3. Carbocisteine – an overview (2012, sciencedirect.com)
  4. Dairy, Fruits And Veggies May Help Smokers Quit (2007, sciencedaily.com)
  5. Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial (2019, nih.gov)
  6. Food, Mood, and Brain Health: Implications for The Modern Clinician (2015, nih.gov)
  7. Health Benefits of Cinnamon (n.d., umaryland.edu)
  8. Popcorn as a snack: healthy hit or dietary horror show? (2019, heart.org)
  9. Purple grape juice supplementation in smokers and antioxidant status according to different types of GST polymorphisms (2014, nih.gov)
  10. Smoking Cessation and Alcohol Abstinence: What Do the Data Tell Us? (n.d., nih.gov)
  11. The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review (2013, pubmed.gov)
  12. The impact of caffeine use on tobacco cessation and withdrawal (1997, pubmed.gov)
  13. The role of glutamine in supporting gut health and neuropsychiatric factors (2021, sciencedirect.com)
  14. The sweet danger of sugar (2022, harvard.edu)
  15. Translational Research in Nicotine Dependence (2013, nih.gov)
  16. Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Outcomes: A Narrative Review (2020, pubmed.gov)
  17. Vitamin C (n.d., harvard.edu)
  18. Whole Grains (n.d., harvard.edu)
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