World No Tobacco Day 2024: 5 foods that can help reduce cravings when quitting smoking | Health - Hindustan Times

World No Tobacco Day 2024: 5 foods that can help reduce cravings when quitting smoking

By, New Delhi
May 31, 2024 07:49 AM IST

Quitting smoking is a challenging journey. Here are five foods that can support you in your efforts to quit smoking and promote a healthier lifestyle.

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed globally every year on May 31. This annual event educates the public about the dangers of tobacco use, the business practices of tobacco companies, the actions taken by the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat tobacco use, and how individuals worldwide can assert their right to health and healthy living to protect future generations. Certain foods can help reduce nicotine cravings and assist in breaking the smoking habit by making cigarettes taste unpleasant or substituting the hand-to-mouth action associated with smoking. Additionally, some foods have a positive impact on managing tobacco and nicotine withdrawal, aiding in the effort to quit smoking. (Also read: World No-Tobacco Day: 7 positive changes that happen in the body after you quit smoking)

When quitting smoking, certain foods can ease the process by reducing cravings and managing withdrawal symptoms.
When quitting smoking, certain foods can ease the process by reducing cravings and managing withdrawal symptoms.

Foods to Help Quit Smoking and Manage Cravings

"Quitting smoking can be challenging, especially when cravings strike. However, incorporating certain foods into your diet can help manage those cravings and ease the transition away from nicotine addiction. But before we talk about food, there is a yogic tip for you. Before sitting down to eat, wait for two minutes, especially when you are hungry. This reduces compulsiveness and increases consciousness. Addiction stems from an imbalance: more compulsiveness and less consciousness. Withholding for two minutes before attending to basic human instincts like eating helps you approach life consciously and thus helps you get rid of addiction," says Shlloka, Classical Hatha Yoga Teacher and Lifestyle Expert.

Shlloka further shared with HT Lifestyle 5 foods that can help you fight smoking addiction:

1. Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa): Indulging in dark chocolate can help reduce both sugar and nicotine cravings. The flavonoids in dark chocolate influence dopamine levels, providing a sense of relaxation and reducing the urge to smoke.

2. Whole Grains: Nicotine withdrawal often leads to cravings for sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods. Whole grains like whole wheat, red rice, barley, oats, and quinoa can help stabilise blood sugar levels, reduce carbohydrate cravings, and promote a feeling of fullness.

3. Herbal Teas: Certain herbal teas can be soothing and help manage cravings and anxiety associated with quitting smoking. Options include:

  • Chamomile Tea: Known for its calming properties.
  • Peppermint Tea: Provides a refreshing distraction and may suppress appetite.
  • Ginger Tea: Settles the stomach and has anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Green Tea: Contains L-theanine for relaxation and mild caffeine for focus.
  • Licorice Root Tea: Naturally sweet and anti-inflammatory.
  • Lemongrass Tea: Calming and stress-reducing.

4. Raw Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds: Snacking on raw vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers can satisfy oral fixation and provide essential nutrients. Fresh, frozen, or dried fruits such as apples, oranges, grapes, and berries offer a sweet and satisfying alternative. Additionally, unsalted nuts (like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios) and seeds (such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds) provide protein, fibre, and healthy fats to curb cravings and stabilise blood sugar levels.

5. Dairy Products: Consuming dairy products like cottage cheese or Greek yoghurt can help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms by providing a less appealing flavour profile. Pairing them with fresh fruit or a sprinkle of cinnamon creates a protein-rich snack option.

Incorporating these foods into your diet can support your efforts to quit smoking by reducing cravings and providing nutritional benefits.

"When you quit smoking, the transition can be challenging, especially if you are addicted to the process of smoking and the taste and smell of it. Here are five foods that you can consume in your diet to help with the transition and reduce cravings when you quit smoking. The best food group to reduce smoking cravings is fruits and vegetables. Chew on raw fruits like apples and berries and fresh raw vegetables like carrots and celery, as they give a satisfactory feeling of chewing and munching and keep your jaws actively engaged. They are also rich sources of fibre and nutrients and keep you satiated for a long time, thus reducing cravings," says Dr. Dimple Jangda, Ayurvedic Coach and Gut Specialist.

She further shared with HT Lifestyle, "You can also keep a box of nuts in handy and chew on a handful whenever you get a chance. You can choose from a variety of nuts like almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, pistachios, and cashews, which are good sources of micronutrients. They are also a rich source of protein and healthy fats and keep you energised. Be sure to soak these nuts for at least an hour before consuming them to prevent indigestion. Include whole grains in your diet, like quinoa, brown rice, steel-cut oats that are organic and glyphosate-free, and lots of varieties of millet. These foods release energy slowly, keep your blood sugar levels stable and reduce cravings."

"You can also chew on a piece of gum, which keeps your jaws engaged and reduces cravings. Besides that, dark chocolate, with good cacao content, can satiate your sweet tooth cravings and prevent you from reaching out for a cigarette instead. It is a rich source of antioxidants that help reduce radical stress in the body, improve your moods, reduce stress, and help you quit smoking," says Dr. Dimple.

She added, "Sip on warm herbal teas throughout the day, especially when you have an urge to smoke. You can choose from a variety of teas like peppermint, chamomile, ginger hibiscus, rosemary that helps change your taste buds and reduce cravings. Besides these teas help reduce inflammation in the body and even the oxidative stress from free radicals. Ensure to drink adequate amount of water all day and stay hydrated. This also helps reduce craving for smoking and other junk foods."

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