If you’re following the South Beach Diet, you’ve already made a commitment to better health. So why not take another step toward that goal? There’s no better time than the present to kick the smoking habit (or to help a loved one quit). And that includes quitting e-cigarettes too.
Today marks the annual Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS). On this day all Americans are encouraged to quit smoking and using tobacco products and to help others do the same. Smoking not only increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, it’s also the leading cause of preventable cancer-related deaths.
As with losing weight, the best way to quit smoking is to make a plan and follow through with it. There are also a number of free programs to help you or a loved one quit. Look for programs in your area at local hospitals, health centers, or through religious organizations — or seek out a program online. Of course, if at first you don't succeed, try again. Relapses are sometimes part of the quitting process, so do not let minor setbacks deter you from ultimately reaching your goal to quit permanently. Here are 6 steps you can take to boost your success and make quitting a little easier:
Remove all temptations. Clear your house of cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and any other smoking artifacts. Thoroughly clean your living space to eliminate any lingering odors.
Avoid your usual smoking spots. Until you've gotten your nicotine cravings under control, avoid places you associate with smoking. It's also best to avoid being around anyone who's smoking.
Distract yourself during moments of intense craving. When you crave a cigarette, take a walk, phone a friend, reply to an e-mail, or chew on some sugar-free gum instead — whatever it takes to avoid thinking about smoking until the craving diminishes, which generally happens within a few minutes.
Practice healthy eating habits and engage in regular exercise. A healthy lifestyle program like the South Beach Diet does double duty when you're kicking the habit. First, eating in accordance with South Beach Diet principles can help offset any weight gain associated with smoking cessation. Second, research shows that people who engage in regular exercise while trying to quit smoking have a higher success rate than those who don't.
Find a quit buddy. Someone who is also trying to quit can help motivate you to stay true to your goal. You and your quit buddy can be there for each other to celebrate the milestones or to manage minor setbacks. And be sure to tell your other friends and family what you’re doing. Chances are they’ll provide encouragement and gentle nudges to help you meet your goal.
- Consider nicotine-replacement therapy. According to the ACS, up to 90 percent of smokers avoid quitting because of difficulty managing their nicotine cravings. Some people can benefit from nicotine-replacement therapy because it can help ease a smoker’s physical cravings. Certain nicotine-replacement products, like gums and patches, are available over the counter, while others, like sprays and inhalers, require a prescription. Another prescription medication, bupropion, acts on your brain chemistry to reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal. If you are determined to quit smoking, speak with your physician about one of these aids. Combining this pharmacological approach with behavioral changes like those described above can really increase your chances of success!