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Smoking: Drop the Habit Without Picking Up Weight

Proven strategies for quitting smoking -- including diet and exercise -- can keep you smoke-free and prevent weight gain.

Clearing the Smoke continued...

Reduce stress. "Learn self-relaxation techniques," suggests Bruce N. Eimer, licensed clinical psychologist. "This will diminish 'withdrawal symptoms' and the tendency toward emotional eating. Let it pass. Acute cigarette cravings often last just five minutes." Distract yourself by doing laundry, calling a friend, or reading to your child. And know that the severity of cravings decreases over time.

Try hypnosis. "Hypnosis is a highly effective, safe, and quick way to stop smoking," Gayle says.

Check your motivation. Make a list of the reasons why you want to quit and keep it handy. "Do you want to make sure your kids never smoke? Breathe deeply and clearly? Look younger? Remind yourself of your motivation when the thought of a cigarette comes to mind," Gayle says.

Use nicotine replacement therapies. You may have to experiment with several to find the most effective solution.

Employ the power of suggestion. Gayle suggests harnessing the subconscious. "Before falling asleep, write down positive affirmations in the present tense such as 'I am a nonsmoker.' You will find yourself matching your behavior to your new belief."

Tap into self-control. "I think it is critical to tell yourself that you are not addicted and that you have control over smoking," Fichera says. "Smokers feel like they have no control. They are told constantly that they are not in control of their addiction, that their cigarettes control them. They need chewing gums, gels, and other potions to quit. It is simply not true. Convince your mind, have faith in the strength of your own constitution, and you can quit."

Avoid smokers and smoking environments. "Though most establishments are smoke-free, if you live in a state where it isn't mandated, you absolutely must sit in the nonsmoking section to break yourself of the habit of smoking after dinner or during coffee," Fichera says.

Reward yourself. Quitting smoking is a monumental achievement. Treat yourself to a new lipstick, a weekend getaway, sports equipment, or a movie.

Exercise burns calories. Activities such as walking, jogging, or swimming can burn off 200-600 calories per hour, and being active increases your metabolic rate.

Exercise depresses appetite. When you exercise, fat is broken down and released into the bloodstream, which can depress your appetite.

Reviewed on July 22, 2008

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