Home Lifestyle 5 foods to eat when fighting nicotine cravings

5 foods to eat when fighting nicotine cravings

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When people stop smoking, it’s common for them to start craving more food, especially sweets. One way to deal with this is by eating fresh or frozen fruit like grapes, strawberries and oranges.

Nicotine addiction is deeply rooted in the brain’s reward pathways. Smoking increases dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and satisfaction, and certain foods can do the same thing. Picture: Andres Ayrton/Pexels

FOOD can play a crucial role in curbing nicotine cravings, providing a fascinating intersection between nutrition and addiction recovery.

It all circles back to brain chemistry and behaviour, shedding light on the complicated yet conquerable challenge of quitting smoking.

Why does food help?

Nicotine addiction is deeply rooted in the brain’s reward pathways. Smoking increases dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and satisfaction.

According to a myriad of studies, when someone stops smoking, they often miss this “hit” of dopamine.

Certain foods, particularly those rich in amino acids like tryptophan, can boost serotonin levels, a feel-good brain chemical that can help compensate for decreased dopamine levels.

This can reduce cravings and improve mood, making it easier to resist the urge to reach for a cigarette.

Quitting smoking isn’t just about chemical dependency; it’s also about breaking the habit of having something in your mouth.

Nicotine addiction is deeply rooted in the brain’s reward pathways. Smoking increases dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and satisfaction, and certain foods can do the same thing. Picture: Cottonbro Studios/Pexels

Crunchy and healthy snacks like carrots, celery, nuts, or sunflower seeds can provide a satisfying crunch and keep your mouth busy, diverting attention away from the desire for a cigarette.

In 2018, the FDA revealed that while over half of adult smokers try to quit, only 8% were able to give up smoking for 6 to 12 months.

On a positive note, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) reports that it’s definitely possible for smokers to quit for good, pointing out that since 2002, there are more people who have stopped smoking than those who continue.

With this in mind, vaping experts at GoSmokeFree have created five of the best foods to help curb your nicotine cravings if you are trying to quit smoking this year.

Apples, carrots and celery

One way to stop yourself from craving to the urge to smoke is to keep your hands and mouth busy.

Snacking on sticks of fruit and vegetables such as apples, celery or carrots can help to simulate the repetitive action of raising your hand to your mouth, while also helping to keep your mouth occupied.

Milk, cheese and yoghurt

If you are still in the phase of reducing the number of cigarettes you have in a day, incorporating dairy products into your diet can help you with this goal.

Smoking a cigarette after consuming dairy products can leave a poor taste in your mouth.

While studies are yet to discover the component that causes this, it is thought it could be a reaction between the lactose in dairy products and the tobacco smoke from cigarettes.

Milk is best known for causing this effect, but if a glass of milk doesn’t appeal to you, cheese and yoghurt can also do the trick.

Popcorn

Eating popcorn mimics the hand-to-mouth ritual of smoking a cigarette. Picture: Mo Abrahim/Pexels

Popcorn is another low-calorie food that keeps your hands and mouth busy when you are craving the ritual of a cigarette.

A lot of shop-bought popcorn contains oil, butter or sugar, which can increase the overall calories, but if you own an air fryer, you can create a lower-calorie, air-popped alternative at home.

Ginseng

Research indicates that ginseng could play a key role in reducing the allure of cigarettes, suggesting that this traditional ingredient may diminish nicotine’s impact.

This reduction in effect lessens the pleasure derived from smoking, thereby assisting individuals in their efforts to quit by making cigarettes less appealing.

Among the various ways to consume ginseng, brewing a soothing cup of ginseng tea is favoured by many. Alternatively, ginseng powder can be blended into smoothies or the root itself can be incorporated into culinary creations, like chicken ginseng soup.

High-fibre wholegrain foods

After you smoke your last cigarette, you might find yourself feeling hungrier than usual for a bit. Eating foods that are rich in fibre, like wholegrain breads and cereals, can help you manage these hunger pangs because they make you feel full for a longer time.

Fresh or frozen fruit

When people stop smoking, it’s common for them to start craving more food, especially sweets. One way to deal with this is by eating fresh or frozen fruit like grapes, strawberries and oranges.

This not only satisfies the sugar craving but also the habit of moving your hand to your mouth, similar to smoking.

A spokesperson from GoSmokeFree said: “Quitting smoking is hard and requires a lot of effort. However, small steps such as eating fruit and vegetable snacks or drinking milk can make it easier. It’s also good to avoid food and drinks that make you want to smoke.

“For instance, drinking coffee might make you crave a cigarette because they’re often paired together.

“Instead, try make sure you have some snacks of fruit or vegetables prepared for after your coffee to curb the craving.”

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