Quitting smoking, goal setting, bad days and nutrition


We received a message from a Facebook Guru reader asking how they could use diet to help them quit smoking. I have shared it here because even if you don’t smoke my answer involves a central them of goal setting and positive thinking in which can be applied to all aspects of life, particularly if you are trying to change some sort of behaviour.

Hi, I just wanted to ask you for some tips on a diet for someone wanting to quit smoking?  I heard somewhere that there are foods to avoid and foods that would really help when trying to quit as the bad stuff doesn’t help cravings is this true and what would you suggest?

First of all let me say a big congratulations to you for making the decision to quit smoking. Coming to the realisation that you need to make a change, and then wanting to make a change is the hardest decision of them all. It shows you are ready to move forward and for that you deserve a pat on the back.

In terms of nutrition, there is nothing to eat more of or avoid. What you eat while you are trying to stop smoking is down to personal preference.

However I do have a couple of tips that you may find useful on your new adventure:

– Choose your words wisely

You  may notice that I’ve called it a new adventure, and you may find it useful to do this as well. Why? Well QUIT, STOP SMOKING, GIVE UP are all very negative words. You say those words in your head and you are already putting your mind in a negative place. These words are lacking in positivity and you will need to be as positive as you can. Instead of thinking of this adventure as a negative (it’s going to be so hard, how am I going to do it, I won’t be able to get through the cravings etc), think of it as a positive new goal you are embarking on.

– Set a daily goal and reward

Sit and write a list noting all the reasons why you want to stop smoking and what you will achieve from starting your ‘new adventure’. Keep this somewhere you can see it each day to remind yourself of your plan. Understanding why you want to give up and what you will achieve in doing so will really set it all out in concrete and you will find that it’s a very liberating process.

The most important thing is to set yourself a goal each day that you want to achieve. You may want to ‘Smoke 5 less cigarettes’ than you normally do, or smoke no cigarettes…you decide but make sure you have a goal.

Write down your goal and put it somewhere visible such as the fridge. Choose a REWARD for reaching your goal each day. It can be something as simple as ‘if I reach my goal I will allow myself 15 mins extra on facebook’ or ‘I will have a nice bath, buy my favourite magazine, or get someone else to do the dishes.’ This is very important to help you stay focused, motivated and active each day to achieve your goal.

-Tell as many people as you can about your adventure

The more people that know, the more people that can help you and who will also make you accountable for reaching your goal.

– Bad days are normal

Realise that you will have a few bad days, but that they won’t last a lifetime. It’s hard when you are not feeling very happy to think about the end outcome of quitting, such as better health, clearer skin, healthier lungs but imagine how healthy and happy you will feel in the future. Ride out the bad days and remind yourself that you won’t feel like this forever.

– Find your trigger

Have a think about whether there is a link with any particular foods, or the act of eating that may trigger the desire for you to smoke. For example, do you religiously have a smoke with your work colleage on your lunch break? Think about arranging to have lunch with someone else just for a short time while you are on your new adventure. Do you alwawys have a smoke with your morning coffee on the verandah? Maybe sit in the loungeroom instead so that the verandah doesn’t trigger the desire for a smoke.

Try and identify a list of triggers that you recognise prompt you to smoke. Such as the morning coffee, stress, when your hungry, or on the way home from the supermarket. If you recognise them, you will be able to then think about some ways to remove those triggers or if you can’t remove them, how you can overcome and get through them.

– Be prepared with snacks

You may have cravings and feel hungry which is normal, so make sure you get armed and ready with some healthy snacks in the fridge and pantry. Fill up on foods with lots of fibre such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains as well as protein rich foods such as lean meats and fish, nuts, yoghurt. Have snacks prepared in your drawer at work.

– Don’t skip meals

Try not to skip any meals, because if you go without cigarettes and food, your body will feel crazy and super stressed. Nourish your self with good wholesome food so that you can be the healthiest you can be to relieve any stress or tension you may feel.

I hope this helps in some way, and let me know how you go on your ‘new adventure’. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Quitting smoking, goal setting, bad days and nutrition

  1. I started a diet when I became a non-smoker. Best thing I have ever done! Went from drinking, eating and smoking to eating well, exercising and not one smoke since June last year!

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