In any given year, an estimated 30-50% of American smokers attempt to quit smoking. However, 7.5% actually succeed.
If you count yourself among the legion of smokers who can’t seem to kick the habit, here’s some good news: Consuming certain foods and drinks may help you in the fight against tobacco.
In this blog, the specialists at Generations Family Practice in Cary and Raleigh, North Carolina, explain how trying some diet hacks may help you finally kick tobacco to the curb.
The addictive power of nicotine
The dangers of cigarette smoking are widely known. In short, tobacco harms every organ in your body. Every year, about one in five deaths is chalked up to tobacco use, giving cigarette smoking the dubious distinction of being the leading cause of preventable disability, disease, and death in the United States.
However, knowing that something is literally killing you and being able to tackle it are two different things. The nicotine in cigarettes releases a chemical called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine gives a sensation of feeling good. Consequently, cutting off these hits of dopamine can cause many people to feel like they're on a roller coaster of irritability, anxiety, and even depression.
Foods and drinks that can tackle cravings
Diet hacks can be divided into two categories of support: Foods and beverages that can help you battle nicotine cravings and those that can help keep your hands and mouth busy instead of smoking. Here are foods and drinks that can help you fight cravings.
Milk and dairy products
There are some foods and drinks that can give your mouth a bitter aftertaste if you try to sneak in a smoke. These substances include milk and dairy products. If a craving starts to build, drink a glass of milk or eat some yogurt or cheese, and you just might find cigarettes a little less enjoyable.
Fruits and vegetables
Similar to milk and dairy products, eating fruits and vegetables may help battle nicotine cravings. In fact, according to a study, smokers who ate the most vegetables and fruits were three times as likely to remain smoke-free for a month or more than those who ate the least.
Research suggests that this cause and effect happens because smoking cigarettes may block the absorption of vitamins and nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Restoring these important nutrients, then, may just lessen your dependence on nicotine.
If you’re a fan of herbal tea, this hack may be particularly interesting. Drinking ginseng tea may make smoking less enjoyable, but not because it leaves an aftertaste when you smoke. According to research, ginseng tea may actually cause a chemical reaction with dopamine, weakening its “feel good” effect when you smoke.
Foods and drinks that can keep your mouth busy
When it comes to foods that can help keep your mind distracted, the following are a good bet:
Step away from that bowl of salty chips and turn to popcorn or pretzels instead. Or choose nuts and seeds, such as sunflower seeds, almonds, or walnuts. Also, crunchy foods, such as pickles, may also be able to help you keep your mind and mouth occupied and distract you from smoking.
This is an interesting food hack. Sucking on a cinnamon stick is a great option to put a little spice in your life without worrying about calories. Another great plus with cinnamon sticks is they occupy your hands similar to what cigarettes once did.
Sugar-free gum and mints
You wouldn’t think suggesting candy would be a good idea, but there are so many sugar-free options available. Similar to cinnamon sticks, gums and mints are a wonderful twofer: They taste good, and they can help distract you.
Smoking cessation programs can help
Smoking cessation programs are a great way to comprehensively tackle your addiction to nicotine and finally get you smoke-free.
Here at Generations Family Practice, we offer an array of smoking cessation options, such as medications, skin patches, inhalers, and nasal sprays. We also offer support groups and cognitive behavioral therapy. We know that everyone is unique and that there are no cookie cutter solutions to quitting smoking. So, we create personalized programs that are customized for each patient.
To learn how we can help you quit smoking, book an appointment online or over the phone with Generations Family Practice today.