Anyone working in the field of addiction is aware of the importance of nutrition in managing withdrawal symptoms, including urges and cravings, re-addressing deficiencies and harm caused by putting dangerous chemicals into the body and brain, and in re-balancing the body during a time of change. Sadly, this is commonly overlooked in smoking cessation programmes. We urge you to take the advice in this section very seriously as it can greatly improve your chances of quitting and make smoking cessation easier.
The Importance of Balancing Blood Sugar Levels During Smoking Cessation
Smoking can stimulate the release of adrenaline in the body. Consequently causing rapid highs and lows in blood sugar. This is why it is crucial to learn how to eat in a way that controls your blood glucose levels sufficiently, helping to reduce cravings for nicotine.
We all know that when you have tried to quit in the past you have had certain symptoms: ‘the munchies’ – especially for sugary treats, headaches, nausea, mood swings, acne and low energy. This is because your blood sugar levels, which were being interfered with and artificially raised, by nicotine, are starting to peak and trough. It is these symptoms that lead you to crave a cigarette, which is known to raise your blood sugar levels in a matter of seconds. Other things we put into our bodies, which we should avoid, that raise blood sugar levels so much that we begin to peak and trough, include caffeine, refined carbohydrates (such as avoiding sugar and things made from white flour). All these act as stimulants in the body, causing a roller coaster effect on blood sugar levels, inducing fast highs and lows and, over time, could also be responsible for your body storing fat.
Get Smart About What You Put in Your Body
Smoking cessation can serve as an opportunity to start learning about good nutrition. The idea of gaining weight might be deterring you from finally committing to quitting. The body’s metabolic rate gets a boost from nicotine increasing the number of calories it burns. Although your metabolic rate returning to normal is a healthy outcome for your body, especially your heart, this also makes weight gain possible if you continue to eat the same way you had been whilst smoking. Swapping junk food for good wholesome nutrition not only helps keep any extra weight off but also can aid in giving up cigarettes.
If your blood sugar levels are up and down throughout the day, it will increase your cravings for nicotine a thousand fold as, every time your blood sugar level dips, the desperation to fill the void with nicotine and artificially boost your blood sugar will rise. In a way, sabotaging your efforts in quitting smoking.
It is essential, therefore, right from day 1 of quitting smoking, to maintain blood sugar balance. This means good, structured and well-timed meal plan, with clean proteins added to each meal – organic eggs, grass-fed meats, beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu etc. The keyword to remember is whole foods! Protein will increase a sense of healthy fullness and steady the release of glucose to your cells.
It is also important to eat lots of fruit, vegetables and seeds. This brings us to healthy snacking for smoking cessation. We don’t usually advise snacking within our clinics, as it can lead to comfort eating and has obvious problematic implications for people recovering from eating disorders. However, in this case of nicotine withdrawal, we recommend to first have a glass of water and then try snacking on mineral rich foods, full of good fats which will really help to reduce cravings and satisfy your hunger pangs. Therefore, instead of picking up sweets, biscuits, etc, which will just mess up your blood sugar levels – the main culprit in causing the cravings – try snacking on walnuts and almonds or fresh fruit such as pears.
It goes without saying that during smoking cessation you might experience strong cravings. Commonly, you may be craving sugar and caffeine, and also alcohol, but this must be avoided or it’s going to be a lot harder in those first few days and weeks. Instead, you should eat as much fresh fruit and dates as you can. Remember, the more minerals you can feed your brain, the more satisfied you will naturally feel.
Chewing gum is not the healthiest option, but if you need to chew on something, it is preferable to choose a gum made with ‘Xylitol’, as this sweetener is good for the gut and teeth.
Nicotine acts as an adrenal stimulant so another helpful strategy during smoking cessation would be to try and promote the action of adrenal hormones during the first month at the height of the withdrawal period, which could help reduce anxiety. This can be done with the aid of liquorice either in a supplement form or as a bar as long as you are getting the real thing.
Remember, however, that liquorice is totally contraindicated with high blood pressure, so you need to be sure you don’t suffer from high blood pressure if you are going to use liquorice as an aid.
If you would like to receive help to quit smoking, please ask us about our custom smoking cessation programmes.