Three-quarters of smokers say they want to quit, and most have made a serious attempt to do so. Unfortunately, kicking the habit for good is easier said than done, as anyone who’s tried and failed can tell you. Though giving up smoking is tough, there are tricks and tools you can use to make it a bit easier, from nicotine patches and prescription drugs to counseling, hypnosis, and acupuncture. What you eat (or don’t eat) may also play a role in how easy it is to stop smoking. While no dietary change is going to magically curb your addiction, shifts in how and what you eat may make quitting a bit easier. Here are four foods to consider adding to your diet if you’re trying to quit smoking.
Smokers who drink a glass of milk before they light up may find that their cigarette doesn’t taste too good, a 2007 study by researchers at Duke University found. Nineteen percent of smokers studied said consuming dairy products like milk or cheese made cigarettes less palatable, while alcohol, coffee, and meat made them taste better.
“With a few modifications to their diet — consuming items that make cigarettes taste bad, such as a cold glass of milk, and avoiding items that make cigarettes taste good, like a pint of beer — smokers can make quitting a bit easier,” lead study investigator Joseph McClernon, Ph.D., said in a statement.
2. Fruits and vegetables
Eating fruits and vegetables before a smoke break also made cigarettes less satisfying, the Duke study found. Sixteen percent of smokers surveyed said those foods made cigarettes taste worse. A separate study of 1,000 smokers by researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables also lit up less frequently.
“It is … possible that fruits and vegetables give people more of a feeling of satiety or fullness so that they feel less of a need to smoke, since smokers sometimes confuse hunger with an urge to smoke,” Jeffrey P. Haibach, lead author on the paper published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, said in a statement.
Many people who are trying to quit smoking miss having something to hold in their mouth. Sucking on a lollipop may help you resist the temptation to reach for cigarette. On MetaFilter, user KathrynT recommended Dum-Dum lollipops for those attempting to quit. “They are tiny … they come in a zillion flavors, and if you don’t crunch them, they take just about as much time to eat as a cigarette does to smoke.”
If you don’t want to load up on sugar, other foods that keep your mouth busy, like celery, cinnamon sticks, or sugarless gum can help you fight the urge to smoke, according to the American Cancer Society.
4. Herbal tea
If your morning ritual involves a cup of coffee and a cigarette, changing your routine may help you resist the urge to smoke. Consider giving up caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea (which the Duke studied found improved the taste of cigarettes) and replacing them with a cup of herbal tea, which will keep you hydrated and may help you relax.
“Drinking water is good for you and seems to have a calming effect on cigarette cravings for many people,” Eleana M. Conway, a nurse practitioner with the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass., told Everyday Health.
Smokers who enjoy a nightcap before bed might also want to replace alcohol with calming herbal tea, according the Five-Day Plan to Quit Smoking, an anti-smoking program developed in the 1960s that has been shown to help people give up cigarettes.
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