Quitting smoking is hard, but there are many things you can do to fend off cravings and help yourself stay smoke-free. The research on this may be limited, but smokers widely report that some foods and drinks can help you reduce cravings.
Tips for quitting smoking are everywhere. Ranging from practical advice to help you deal with the psychological aspects of cravings through to quitting approaches like medications and nicotine replacement therapies that are well-supported by evidence, everyone seems to have a suggestion for helping you stay cigarette-free. Some tips are more common than others, though, and most smokers wouldn’t even think about the food or drink they consume as being a potential benefit or hindrance when trying to quit, but some research – and the experiences of smokers – suggests that they really could be.
Foods and Drinks That Could Help You Quit Smoking
A study from researchers at Duke University is largely responsible for much of the advice when it comes to food and drink that could help you quit smoking. The researchers became interested in claims from smokers that certain foods and drinks made cigarettes taste better, and set out to investigate it by surveying over 200 smokers about foods and drinks which make cigarettes either taste better or worse. The results form the basis of much of the advice in this post.
There are other benefits to using foods and drinks as a tool when you’re trying to quit smoking too. When you’re experiencing a craving, having something to do to take your mind off it can be invaluable. Some quitters go for a walk, or take up a new hobby, or phone a loved one, but you can use food or drink to serve exactly the same purpose.
1 – Milk/Yogurt
Dairy products were identified as one of the types of food and drink that made cigarettes taste worse, so drinking milk or eating yogurt could be a useful tip when you’re dealing with cravings or trying to reduce the amount you smoke.
2 – Vegetables
Another category commonly reported to make cigarettes taste worse is vegetables. The big benefit of this group as one of the foods to help you quit smoking is that eating more vegetables is good for your health. It should reduce the appeal of smoking, but even if it doesn’t work for you, it’ll be good for your health to tuck into a celery stick every so often anyway.
3 – Gum and Mints
This wasn’t included in the study, but works particularly well as “something to do” when you’re struggling with a craving. Both gum and mints last for a long time, so you can keep chewing or sucking until your craving dissipates. This is one of the benefits of nicotine gum – as well as providing the nicotine you need to ease your cravings, it also gives you something to do with your mouth.
4 – Ginseng Tea
Ginseng tea is another option for a drink that can help you quit smoking, but the story here is a little different too. Studies have suggested that ginseng could genuinely reduce the effects of nicotine, which could reduce the appeal of smoking and thereby make it easier to quit.
5 – Water/Fruit Juice
This wasn’t covered in the study, but drinking water or fruit juice are both good options for “distracting” things to do when you’re struggling with cravings.
Foods and Drinks to Avoid When You’re Trying to Quit Smoking
1 – Meat
In the study that asked smokers about things which enhanced or detracted from the taste of cigarettes, meat was identified as something that made smoking taste better. You don’t have to go vegetarian, but cutting down on the meat might make it easier to cut down on cigarettes.
2 – Alcohol
Alcohol and cigarettes are a good pairing from a smoker’s perspective, and alcohol was identified as something which made smoking taste better. Reducing the amount you drink or avoiding it altogether is good for this reason, but it also helps avoid any tipsy decisions to have “just one” cigarette.
3 – Caffeine
Caffeine – whether as part of coffee, tea, cola or in any other form – was also identified as something that made cigarettes taste better. Avoiding caffeine or reducing your intake could make it easier to stay away from cigarettes.
Understand Your Habits and Try New Things
There are several specific suggestions of foods and drinks to help you quit smoking and ones which could make it more difficult in this post, but understanding your own habits is the most important thing. If you always smoke when you’re drinking your morning coffee, then you know changing your coffee for something else is particularly important. However, if you smoke with your morning orange juice, then changing your orange juice for something else is probably a better approach for you. Although several of these suggestions could help smokers in general, thinking about your smoking habits will give you a better idea of the sort of changes that might help you specifically.