Kicking the habit

| February 03, 2008

Every smoker worries about packing on the pounds when they quit puffing, and this is a real concern. Nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant by interfering with the body’s release of insulin, and lighting up does keep down food intake. Without cigarettes, you may turn to food to ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Getting clean is hard work. What can you do?

Be patient with yourself. Quitting smoking should be your No. 1 task. Lose the butts … and then work on losing the gut. Here are some ideas:

  1. Keep healthy snacks handy. Feed your oral fixation with crunchy stuff like carrot sticks, celery sticks or cucumber slices. My husband gnawed on plastic soda straws for months after he quit. Some people like to pop hard candies or nibble on sunflower seeds or nuts (peanuts, walnuts or almonds) for an afternoon treat.

  2. Lose high-fat foods (doughnuts, fries, shakes, etc). Why torture yourself with the temptation?
  3. Drink water. It will fill you up and also help your digestion.
  4. Put a cap on the bottle. For many people, drinking and smoking go hand in hand. Booze is also loaded with calories.
  5. Add exercise. Quitting smoking slows your metabolism, and you will have to sweat more to keep from gaining weight.

Ronald Rush, M.D., is a family care physician with Highway Health Care and clinical director of MedXpress Health Care in Texarkana, Texas.
Quitting smoking takes a strong commitment and is like quitting drinking alcohol or gambling. It is a tough and lifelong process. Every day without smoking makes you stronger. Being around smokers puts you at risk. Quitting together was smart – your greatest strength is each other. If one fails, the other will likely fail, too. This same concept applies to solo drivers. Avoid putting yourself in situations where smokers tend to gather. Use the CB or other communication tool to hook up with a buddy who is trying to stop smoking. Don’t let your isolation in the cab give you permission to light up. If needed, ask your doctor to prescribe one of the many drugs known to help.

Once you stop, you should notice an increase in sputum production and hacking cough for the first 30 days. You will be coughing up the smoking by-products that have been trapped in your lungs. You should start to notice an increase in energy level and a decrease in shortness of breath. You will notice fewer head and chest colds and, over time, there is a significantly decreased chance of lung, kidney, gastrointestinal and other cancers. A life-limiting health problem that most smokers get is emphysema. Most smokers have some degree of emphysema, and it only gets worse with time. Although emphysema is generally not reversible, every day without smoking is likely a day added to your life.

Linda Dunn is a fitness expert from Tuscaloosa, Ala.
When you have the urge to smoke, go for a five- or 10-minute walk instead. If you can just walk briskly for five minutes at first, you can eventually work up to 10-15 minutes several times a day. Even if it’s just when you stop to fuel or rest, walk instead of smoke! You will be burning calories, and the motion of walking helps ease the anxiety that comes with nicotine withdrawal. Walking creates a chemical change in the brain and can make you feel calmer, but energized.

Breathing exercises can help with the removal of the toxins smoking has deposited in the body. Practice breathing through the nose – inhaling in a six-count breath, holding the breath for two counts, and then exhaling through the nose for six counts – to relieve stress. Sit upright with your spine long, and try to relax as you breathe. When you can, practice these breathing exercises on your back in a comfortable position. Try a yoga class with a registered yoga teacher to learn how to practice alternate-nostril breathing. Yoga has many breathing practices that would help your mind and body focus on relaxation.

Also, you must have a positive intention and tell yourself, “I can do this, and I will feel better and be healthier!”

Nominate Health Heroes
Do you know any truckers who have worked hard to become more healthy? Maybe they’ve quit smoking, started an exercise program, controlled their sleep apnea or changed their eating habits. E-mail or send to Truckers News Fit for the Road, 3200 Rice Mine Rd. NE, Tuscaloosa, AL 35406.

The advice and opinions expressed herein are only general suggestions. Before you undertake any course of action, you should consult your doctor to determine what steps are right for you. Randall-Reilly Publishing, Truckers News and the experts consulted for these articles do not endorse, warrant or promote in any way the products of any of our sponsors.

Comments are closed. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.