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Managing weight gain

People who quit have very different experiences regarding weight gain. They range from those who actually lose weight, to a minority of people who gain over 10 kg. If weight gain becomes a problem for you, there is help available.

Why do quitters sometimes put on weight?

Weight gain is common in the months after quitting for a number of reasons.

  • When you quit smoking you’re looking for rewards, treats and something to do on breaks so it’s easy to start over-snacking.
  • Smokers often miss the hand-to-mouth action of smoking and eating is the most obvious first option that springs to mind to fill this desire.
  • Nicotine slightly speeds up metabolism. After quitting it may slow down to a healthier, more normal rate, which can cause some weight gain.
  • Nicotine can act as an appetite suppressant, so you may feel hungrier than normal in the first few weeks of quitting – though this will decrease over time.

Being prepared for changes to appetite and eating habits after quitting can help you prevent or minimise unwanted weight gain.

How to prevent weight gain or keep it low

  • Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time
    • Stock the fridge and fruit bowl with healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and nuts. Don’t have too many processed snacks (e.g. chips, biscuits, lollies, soft drink) in the pantry or fridge. Try to keep most of your eating to meals, whenever possible.
  • Increase your exercise
    • To help keep your weight down and also as a distraction to beat cravings. Even an increase in regular walking can help lessen weight gain.

If worrying about weight gain is stopping you from quitting, talk to a health professional who can give you advice on the issues that are important to you. They can help you make a healthy eating and exercise plan that suits your lifestyle. Your doctor can also refer you to a dietician or other specialist. You can also find a dietician at the Dieticians Association of Australia.

I have put on weight, what now?

If you’ve put on a few kilos, the best approach to manage your weight is to focus on how you look and feel rather than your weight itself. Many people will put on a few kilos in the first six months of quitting but will tackle the weight gain down the track when they’re more comfortable as a nonsmoker.

Remember, putting on a couple of kilos might not be desirable but it’s not a major health problem compared to smoking. Don’t be alarmed if you put on some weight early on, as weight gain from quitting does slow down the longer you stay quit, providing you have a reasonably healthy diet.

As a nonsmoker, your fitness capacity and energy levels will increase, which means you can get more benefits from exercise, including losing weight, further down the track.

Tips to help manage your weight

  • Use the time and money you've saved from not smoking to plan and cook tasty, healthier meals.
  • Avoid strict diets.
    • Constant bouts of hunger will make quitting more difficult and could put your success at risk.
  • Try not to skip meals, especially breakfast.
  • Limit  sugary treats
    • such as sweet drinks, lollies, biscuits, sweetened dairy products and cakes.
  • Prepare healthy snacks
    • such as celery and carrot sticks or vegetable strips, and whole fruits (not fruit juice, which is often high in sugar).
  • Be realistic – allow yourself some treats occasionally.
  • If you use food to help you deal with feelings such as depression or loneliness try increasing other activities that make you feel better.
  • Emotional eating and binge eating can sometimes be difficult to deal with by yourself. For help and support, consider seeing a health professional who specialises in people's relationship with food. Your GP can refer you to a psychologist. Medicare rebates are available.

The Better Health Channel is a great resource for good, reliable health-related advice, including advice on healthy eating, exercise and managing weight gain. 

Health tracker and cravings tips

Click on the blue numbers in the tool below to see health benefits and get tips for cravings. Have a play to see how your health with improve and how much money you'll save. See Staying Quit for more tips and advice...

 

Pre-Quit

Pre Quit

Your health Pre Quit

You're thinking about quitting. Take the next step by deciding why quitting is important to you and setting a quit date.

Pre Quit Tips

Write a list of the benefits of being a nonsmoker, and next to it the drawbacks. The more benefits you see the more ready you are to quit.

Average Savings

  • $ 0
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

Hours

1

Your health at 1 hour

Your heart rate and blood pressure start to drop.

Tips for 1 hour

Don't say: "That was my last cigarette" say "I'm not going to smoke today" and take it one day at a time.

Remember, you have to resist cravings or they won't go away. The more you resist, the weaker they will become. It’s hard, but they won't last forever.

Average Savings

  • $ 0
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

4

Your health at 4 hours

Once you've made the big decision to quit you'll be pleased to know the benefits start right away - like fresh breath!

Tips for 4 hours

Clear your home, car and workplace of things that remind you of smoking, such as ashtrays and lighters.

Average Savings

  • $ 0
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

8

Your health at 8 hours

Your heart rate has returned to normal, and your finger tips are warmer.

Tips for 8 hours

Since your smoking is supported by your normal routines, try changing your routines in small ways to help keep smoking out of your thoughts.

Average Savings

  • $ 0
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

12

Your health at 12 hours

Most of the nicotine is out of your blood. Great news as it’s the nicotine which fuels the addiction to smoking.

Tips for 12 hours

Plan ways to deal with any withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Walks, a hot bath or spa, gentle stretches, watching comedy, yoga and stress balls are just some ways to relax or loosen up.

Average Savings

  • $ 0
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

20

Your health at 20 hours

After quitting, food may seem more delicious and enticing. If so, choose low kilojoule sweets and stock up on whole fruits and healthy snacks.

Tips for 20 hours

Try to cut down on caffeinated drinks (e.g. coffee, cola) in the first few weeks, as the effects of caffeine increase without nicotine.

Average Savings

  • $ 0
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

Days

1

Your health at 1 day

Your blood’s carbon monoxide level has returned to normal. There's now more oxygen in your blood to help your organs function better.

Tips for 1 day

Tell any friends and family how they can best help you with your quit attempt. One easy way is for those who smoke to promise not to offer you any cigarettes.

Average Savings

  • $ 10
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

2

Your health at 2 days

By day two your hair and clothes will smell fresher.

Tips for 2 days

It's often a good idea to spend less time with smokers for the first few days of quitting, if you can. There's no need to face the biggest challenges just yet.

Average Savings

  • $ 20
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

3

Your health at 3 days

You may feel like you have more energy to get through your day.

Tips for 3 days

Buy healthy snacks like nuts (pistachios and shelled peanuts are good as they keep your hands busy), fruit, grapes, celery, and carrot sticks.

Average Savings

  • $ 30
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

4

Your health at 4 days

Disease fighting anti-oxidants are on the increase in your body, just because you've given up smoking.

Tips for 4 days

Many people say the first few days without cigarettes are the hardest. You've made it to day four! Reward yourself today with the money you've saved from not smoking!

Average Savings

  • $ 40
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

5

Your health at 5 days

Your liver and kidneys are cleansing your body of chemicals from cigarettes - every day their levels fall lower and lower.

Tips for 5 days

Put your cigarette money in a jar and save it to reward yourself by buying a new book, DVD or going out to dinner.

Average Savings

  • $ 50
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

Weeks

1

Your health at 1 week

Your lungs start to heal as cilia, the tiny hairs that clean your lungs, begin to recover from paralysing tobacco toxins. Your sense of taste and smell may seem better.

Tips for 1 week

Practice saying, "No thanks, I don't smoke."

If you need to, keep your hands busy by fiddling with a pen or your mobile phone, etc. It won’t be long until not having a cigarette in your hand feels natural.

Average Savings

  • $ 70
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

2

Your health at 2 weeks

Tobacco stains on your fingers are fading.

Tips for 2 weeks

Consider avoiding challenging situations where people will be smoking socially, particularly if there will also be alcohol around.

Average Savings

  • $ 140
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

4

Your health at 4 weeks

Now you've been quit for four weeks your body is working better in ways you might not be aware of. It's getting better at fighting off infection, which helps cuts and wounds to heal.

Tips for 4 weeks

Spend time with friends or family who don't smoke and feel proud that you're becoming a nonsmoker just like them.

Average Savings

  • $ 304
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

6

Your health at 6 weeks

Your vitamin C levels are back to normal. Vitamin C helps your body repair skin, blood vessels and cartilage.

Tips for 6 weeks

As thoughts about smoking become more rare, don't fall into the trap of over confidence. Be prepared for occasional thoughts to pop up unexpectedly.

Average Savings

  • $ 420
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

Months

2

Your health at 2 months

Say goodbye to smokers cough! Any coughing and wheezing you experienced while smoking will have eased so you may be coughing less in the morning.

Tips for 2 months

Some smokers have trouble letting go if smoking is part of their rebellious streak. If that's you, what are smarter ways you can express that part of yourself?

Average Savings

  • $ 608
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

3

Your health at 3 months

Your lungs are really on the mend, becoming better at removing mucus, tar and dust.

Tips for 3 months

Ex-smokers like yourself report that their quality of life is better after they quit and it improves further the longer they are quit.

Average Savings

  • $ 913
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

4

Your health at 4 months

Your circulation has improved and your good cholesterol levels are up. Your blood is less thick and sticky, reducing your risk of harmful clots.

Tips for 4 months

Now that you are quit, you're likely to get sick less often, and experience less severe symptoms when you do.

Average Savings

  • $ 913
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

6

Your health at 6 months

Feeling good? Stress levels are usually lower at around six months than they would be if you were still smoking.

Tips for 6 months

Going through a period of grief and loss on the way to becoming a nonsmoker is normal. Remember everything you've gained is worth it. Missing smoking at times is a normal part of letting go for good.

Average Savings

  • $ 1825
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

9

Your health at 9 months

Your immune system is improving. You're likely to be coughing up less phlegm now.

Tips for 9 months

Take time to work out how many thousands of dollars you've saved - and what you will reward yourself with for your big milestone!

Average Savings

  • $ 2744
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

Years

1

Your health at 1 year

Your lungs are healthier and you’ll be breathing easier than if you’d kept smoking.

Tips for 1 year

Keep reminding yourself of all the good reasons you have to be a non-smoker. Review your list and update it if necessary. Let yourself feel proud of your great achievement!

Average Savings

  • $ 3650
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

5

Your health at 5 years

Within just two to five years, you've achieved a large drop in your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Tips for 5 years

Remind yourself of all the stresses you've coped with since you quit. Feel comfortable knowing you can manage anything life throws at you without ever needing to reach for a cigarette again.

Average Savings

  • $ 18250
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

10

Your health at 10 years

Your risk of cancer is lower than that of a continuing smoker! Less cancer risk means more time to enjoy the good things in life.

Tips for 10 years

Now you've very likely achieved getting smoking out of your life for good, imagine what else you can achieve!

Average Savings

  • $ 36500
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

15

Your health at 15 years

Your heart and brain will thank you as your risk of heart attack and stroke is close to that of a nonsmoker.

Tips for 15 years

If you're in the majority of ex-smokers who have been quit this long, you'll be enjoying feeling healthier as a result of your great efforts - enjoy the ongoing rewards!

Average Savings

  • $ 54750
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month

20

Your health at 20 years

"Smoker? Not me!" Your risk of loss of sight from age-related macular degeneration is lower than a continuing smoker.

Congratulations!

There are now more Australians who have quit smoking than there are who still smoke - and you're one of the healthier, happier majority!

Your achievement of staying a non-smoker is significant, and likely an inspiration to those around you that quitting for good is possible - congratulations!

Average Savings

  • $ 73000
  • $70.00 p/week
  • $304.00 p/month
Calculate your actual costs

 

 

 

 

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