Quitting Smoking and Nutrition

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking may well be the single most important thing you can do to improve your health, your body feels these benefits almost immediately.

  • After 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse return to normal.
  • After 24 hours your lungs start to clear.
  • After 2 days your body is nicotine-free and your sense of taste and smell improve.
  • After 3 days you can breathe more easily, and your energy increases.
  • After 2 to 12 weeks, your circulation improves.
  • After 3 to 9 months coughs, wheezing and breathing improves.
  • After 1 year your heart attack risk is half that of a smoker.
  • After 10 years your lung cancer risk is half that of a smoker.

Irish Cancer Society (2011)

Will I Gain Weight if I Quit Smoking?

Not everyone gains weight when they stop smoking. You can control your weight while you quit smoking by making healthy eating and physical activity a part of your life. Although you might gain a few pounds, don’t forget that you have quit smoking and taken a big step toward a healthier life.

How to Reduce Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking

Get regular moderate intensity physical activity. Regular physical activity may help you avoid large weight gains when you quit smoking. It may help you look and feel good, and fit into your clothes better. You will likely find that you can breathe easier during physical activity after you quit smoking. Try to get 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week, preferably every day.

Diet Advice After Quitting Smoking

Having more high fat, sugary snacks and alcoholic drinks may lead to large weight gains when you quit smoking. The ideas below may help you make healthy eating and drinking choices as you quit smoking. 

  • Do not go too long without eating. Being very hungry can lead to less healthy food choices.
  • Eat enough at meal times to satisfy you.
  • Choose healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit or canned fruit in juice (not syrup), unsalted popcorn or fat-free yoghurt, when you are hungry between meals.
  • Do not deny yourself an occasional treat.

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