Weight concerns in smokers can sabotage efforts to kick the habit. The dependence on cigarettes to control weight increases with the tendency to substitute cigarettes for meals and snacks. Smokers who are concerned about their weight tend to be women, and their chances of weight loss success are dependent upon the factors which affect their motivation to lose weight.
What do breaking a cigarette habit and losing weight have in common?
Research points to better outcomes when the motivation to lose weight is based on intrinsic factors. Intrinsic or internal factors are those generated by the self such as the desire to be healthier or to achieve a greater level of fitness. Extrinsic factors are those related to the environment such as social pressure, criticism or disapproval from a spouse or family member.
Smoking cigarettes to lose weight is based on external motivation because the desire for thinness is placed over health. The key to overcoming this barrier lies in establishing an internal motivator that is stronger than the extrinsic factors associated with smoking.
Resources to break the habit
A large part of your success will depend on your own understanding of your readiness to lose weight since joint services are harder to come by. Increasing self-dialogue related to smoking and eating triggers can help to establish viable coping mechanisms. For example, you may ask yourself:
- What are my reasons for smoking?
- What are my reasons for wanting to lose weight?
- Am I capable of losing weight without smoking?
- What differences or similarities are there in achieving my weight loss goals through smoking cigarettes vs. leading a healthy lifestyle?
Exercise has been found to deter smoking by altering mental cues. Since exercise creates a calorie deficit, it can be used to restore confidence in eating. Exercise can replace time spent smoking and help to form a new non-smoking identity.
The American Cancer Society has an expansive web page related to living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding tobacco. Its website offers information, tips to stay smoke free, healthy recipes and nutrition information. Local resources are also available.
The American Dietetic Association provides a local directory of weight loss Dietitians who can safely help to incorporate healthy eating habits since a higher success rate is associated with nutritional counseling during treatment for smoking cessation.
~Nova J. Green, RD