Don't let a fear of packing on the pounds keep you from giving up cigarettes. There are several steps you can take to prevent weight gain while you kick the habit.
Step 1: Eat less or move more Eat less or exercise more. Nicotine helps smokers stay slim by raising their metabolism; that's part of the reason the average smoker puts on between 4 and 10 pounds after giving up cigarettes. If you're a moderate smoker -- less than a pack a day -- you can counteract this by cutting out or burning off about 200 calories per day.
TIP: Walking an extra 30 to 45 minutes usually burns enough calories to make up for the metabolism slow-down.
Step 2: Chew nicotine gum Chew nicotine gum. It will suppress your urge for a cigarette and keep your mouth occupied.
Step 3: Keep fruit on hand Keep fresh fruit on hand. Many people who quit smoking experience strong cravings for sweets; fruit can satisfy that yen in a healthy way.
Step 4: Drink hot tea Drink hot tea between meals. It can kill the urge to munch.
TIP: Avoid coffee if you're used to enjoying a cigarette with your cup of joe, or it may reawaken that craving.
Step 5: Consider hypnotherapy Consider hypnotherapy. It helps some people give up their cigarettes without piling on the pounds.
Step 6: Take medication Ask your doctor about taking the antidepressant bupropion; it sometimes helps curb weight gain in ex-smokers because it's works as an appetite suppressant in some people.
FACT: Smokers who quit at age 35 gain an average of eight years of life expectancy; those who quit at age 55 gain about five years; and quitting at 65 gives you three years.