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There’s a chance that when you quit tobacco, you may experience a slight weight gain. But don’t worry. Even if you don’t think you have much time or may have some limitations to how much exercise you can do, by making just a few adjustments to your lifestyle you can help prevent this from happening.

Why does it happen?

  • Calories don’t burn quite as fast: Once you quit tobacco, your heart no longer has to work as hard to pump blood through your body. This is a very good thing. But a heart beating at a more normal level means calories won’t be burned quite as quickly.
  • Overconsumption of calories: Some people end up eating more after they quit, using calorie-rich snacking to satisfy tobacco cravings.
  • Not enough physical activity: Lack of exercise slows the calorie-burning process even further.

What to do about it?

There are two main keys to avoiding weight gain: exercise and healthier eating. And both are achievable without having to completely rearrange your life!

Exercise: An active day-to-day lifestyle will help you manage your weight during and after quitting tobacco. Here are some easy ways to interject physical activity into your life.

  • Walk. Just 10 minutes, twice a day, can keep you from gaining 10 pounds a year!
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park a little further away so you get some extra walking done.
  • Play with your children.
  • Rake some leaves or do some light housework.
  • Get into the habit of cooking.
  • Whenever possible, stand instead of sit!

Healthy eating: You don’t have to go on some extreme diet to control your calorie intake. Healthier snacking and simply being mindful of the foods you eat can go a long way toward not just preventing weight gain, but maybe even shedding a few extra pounds on top of it!

Some easy low-calorie snack ideas:

  • Apples, bananas, blueberries and grapes
  • Carrots, celery or bell peppers with hummus
  • Slices of chilled cucumber (with a drizzle of vinegar with dill)
  • Chilled broccoli and whole mushrooms
  • A serving of pretzels or dry cereal
  • Club soda with a splash of fruit juice
  • Ice water with slices of lemon and lime

Some healthy food substitution ideas:

  • Switch out mayonnaise for fat-free mayo.
  • Use non-fat or low-fat milks and cheeses.
  • Eat more fish and less chicken and red meat. There are also great tofu recipes.
  • Try fruit or low-fat cookies for dessert. Or frozen yogurt and sorbet instead of ice cream.
  • Avoid fried foods when possible, opting instead for healthier grilled or roasted options.
  • When it comes to breads, eat more whole grains.

Quitting tobacco is the perfect time to focus on being healthy inside and out. By quitting tobacco, staying active and eating healthfully, you’ll be well on your way.