MyHealth.Alberta.ca Network

Maintaining a healthy weight

Immediately after quitting smoking, some people find that their metabolism changes and they gain weight. Here's what you need to know.

Although people worry about gaining weight, most people gain less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). Most of the weight gain happens in the first 1 to 2 months of quitting. There are many reasons for this:

  • Nicotine (the addictive drug in tobacco) can stop us from feeling hungry.
  • Nicotine is a stimulant. It makes the heart and other body systems work faster.
  • When people stop using tobacco, taste buds recover and food starts to taste better.
  • Eating may replace the habits around using tobacco (e.g., having a break at work, the hand-to-mouth action of smoking).
  • As people stop using tobacco, their brains may crave foods with lots of sugar or fat.

However, the health benefits of quitting smoking are great, even if some extra weight is gained. Stopping your use of tobacco is an important part of getting healthy.

Tips for maintaining a healthy weight

Eat smaller meals, more frequently

It may be tempting to reach for sugary snacks to give you a boost. Instead, eat smaller amounts of food more often throughout the day. If you eat four different foods for lunch, try eating two of these at lunch time and then save the rest for snacks an hour or two later.

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