Want to quit smoking? Here's how to stick with your plan.

December 21, 2015 | by Jacqueline Ross, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

It may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.

Smoking is a tough habit to break. But you have the power to take control of your health. Not only is it possible to quit, today there are more former smokers than current smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

If you’ve recently quit, think about the positive results you may already notice: food tastes better, your breath smells fresh and the morning smoker’s cough is gone.

You’re on a roll! To stick with your plan, here’s what to do:

Don't forget why you quit. Don’t lose sight of your motivation. Keep a list of reasons why you quit smoking in your wallet or purse. Read it often.

Change your routine. Keeping the same routine will only remind you it’s time for a cigarette. Change things up. Instead of having a cigarette after dinner, take the dog for a walk. Try a new hobby that keeps your hands busy, such as knitting, woodworking or golf.

Plan ahead. Be prepared for the times when you might get the urge to smoke, such as going out for dinner in a restaurant or being with someone who lights up in front of you.

Find new ways to relieve stress. Instead of lighting up, come up with new tactics to manage stressful situations. Deep breathing and listening to relaxation audiotapes can be very helpful, especially while sitting in rush hour traffic.

Get moving!  Exercise will help take your mind off smoking. It will improve your mood and control your appetite, too. If you haven’t exercised in a while, try walking. You can do it anywhere, anytime.

To avoid gaining weight, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid drinks with lots of sugar such as soda and juice. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables along with plenty of whole grains. If you have the urge to munch or if you tend to eat when you are feeling nervous, reach for carrots, fat-free snacks such as pretzels, or sugar-free gum. Better yet, opt for exercise instead. Go for a brisk walk or jog around the block. Try a new exercise class such as Pilates or swimming.

Still struggling? The smoking cessation program offered by Edward-Elmhurst Health can give you the support you need to quit for good. 

Want to detect a lung problem early to breathe easier? Take our free, 5-minute Lung Aware test.

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