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Diet and Exercise

Diet and Exercise to Help You Go Tobacco-Free

Many people are concerned about gaining weight when they quit smoking. But with a healthful diet and regular exercise, this weight gain can be prevented. Also, adopting these healthful lifestyle factors will make you feel better and help you keep from smoking again.

Diet

All of us should strive for a healthful diet, whatever our specific goals are. But when you are quitting smoking, it is especially important. A healthful diet can help prevent weight gain and can help your body to recover from the damage that smoking can do. In addition, adapting your eating habits gives you something to focus on other than smoking. For example, when you have a craving to put something in your mouth or do something with your hands, reach for some carrot sticks or air-popped popcorn instead of a cigarette.

When you eat better, you will feel better. And this will help reinforce the good thing that you are doing for your body by quitting smoking and adopting other healthy lifestyle habits.

Exercise

Regular exercise is a great way to keep those pounds from creeping on and to lose a few as well. The longer you are smoke-free, the easier it will be to breathe when you exercise. You'll want to start slow, but the key is to get into a routine of exercising regularly-start with 3-4 days per week, even if you only do 10-20 minutes of exercise each day. Gradually increase the time spent each day. Also, by exercising regularly, you'll be less likely to start smoking again.

If you don't have a regular physical activity routine see your doctor before starting to exercise.

About gaining weight

Many people who are considering quitting are very concerned about gaining weight. If you are concerned about weight gain, keep these points in mind:

  • Quitting doesn't mean you'll automatically gain weight. When people gain, it's because they often eat more once they quit.
  • The benefits of giving up cigarettes far outweigh the drawbacks of adding a few pounds. You'd have to gain a very large amount of weight to offset the many substantial health benefits that a normal smoker gains by quitting. 
  • Watch what you eat, and if you are concerned about gaining weight, consider the tips that follow.

Tips to help you avoid weight gain

  • Make sure you have a well-balanced diet, with the proper amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
  • Don't set a target date for a holiday, when the temptation of high-calorie food and drinks may be too hard to resist.
  • Drink a glass of water before your meals.
  • Weigh yourself weekly.
  • Chew sugarless gum when you want sweet foods.
  • Plan menus carefully and count calories. 
  • Don't try to lose weight; just try to maintain your pre-quitting weight.
  • Have low-calorie foods on hand for nibbling. 
  • Use the Snack Calorie Chart below to choose foods that are both nutritious and low in calories. Some good choices are fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices, low-fat cottage cheese, and air-popped popcorn without butter.
  • Take time for daily exercise or join an organized exercise group.

Snack calorie chart

Beverages

Calories

Carbonated (per 8 oz. glass) 

 

Cola-type 

95 

Fruit flavors (10-13% sugar) 

115 

Ginger ale 

75 

Fruit drinks (per ½ cup) 

 

Apricot nectar 

70 

Cranberry juice 

80 

Grape drink 

70 

Lemonade (frozen) 

55 

Fruit juices (per ½ cup) 

 

Apple juice(canned) 

60 

Grape juice(bottled) 80 

80 

Grapefruit juice(canned) unsweetened 

50 

Orange juice(canned) unsweetened 

55 

Pineapple juice(canned) unsweetened 

70 

Prune juice(canned) 

100 

Vegetable juices (per ½ cup) 

 

Tomato juice 

25 

Vegetable juice cocktail 

20

Coffee and tea 

 

Coffee(black) 

3-5 

with 1 tsp. sugar 

18-20 

with 1 tsp. cream 

13-15 

Tea(plain) 

0-1 

with 1 tsp. sugar 

15-16 

 

Food

Calories 

Candy, chips, and pretzels 

 

Hard candy(1 ounce) 

110 

Jelly beans(1 ounce) 

105 

Marshmallows(1 ounce) 

90 

Gumdrops(1 ounce) 

100 

Corn chips(1 cup) 

230 

Potato chips(1 cup) 

115 

Popcorn, air-popped, without butter (1 cup) 

25 

Dutch pretzel(1 twisted) 

60 

Pretzel sticks(5 regular) 

10 

Cheese (per ounce) 

 

American(processed) 

105 

Cottage(creamed) 

30 

Cottage(low-fat, 2%) 

25 

Swiss(natural) 

105 

Crackers 

 

Butter(2-inch diameter) 

15

Graham(2-1/2 inches square, 2) 

55 

Matzoh(6-inch diameter) 

80 

Rye 

45 

Saltine 

50 

Fruit (raw) 

 

Apple (1 medium) 

80 

Apricots(fresh, 3 medium) 

50 

Apricots(dried, 5 halves) 

40 

Banana(1 medium) 

105 

Blackberries(1/2 cup) 

35 

Blueberries(1/2 cup)  

40 

Cantaloupe(1/4 melon) 

50 

Cherries(10) 

50 

Dates(dried, 3) 

70 

Fig(dried, 1 medium) 

50 

Grapefruit(1/2) 

40 

Grapes(20) 

30 

Orange(1 medium)

60 

Peach(1 medium) 

35 

Pear(1 medium) 

100 

Pineapple(1/2 cup) 

40 

Prunes(dried, 3) 

60 

Raisins(1/4 cup) 

110 

Strawberries(1 cup) 

45 

Watermelon(1 cup)   

50 

Nuts (per 2 tablespoons) 

 

Brazil nuts 

115 

Cashews 

100 

Peanuts 

105 

Pecans, halves 

95 

Vegetables (raw) 

 

Carrots(1/2 cup grated)

35 

Celery(5-inch stalks, 3) 

10 

Pickle(1) 

15-20 

Sourced from: 
Karen Schroeder Kassel, MS, RD, Med, 2009, "Diet and Exercise to Help You Quit Smoking."
National Cancer Institute, 1993, "Clearing the Air: How to Quit Smoking."