We’ve all heard how bad smoking is for you and how much quitting can improve your health. The American Cancer Society says that once you quit smoking your body starts detoxing from the nicotine almost immediately. Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop within 24 hours and your lung function and circulation improve over the next one to three weeks. After about a year your lung function will be back to normal and your risk of heart disease cut in half. And the benefits keep piling up over the next few years that you don’t smoke.
But quitting is hard. And it’s particularly hard if you don’t want to use medication to help manage withdrawal. There are, however, several healthy habits that you can pick up while you’re quitting that can help you leave smoking behind once and for all.
1) Stabilize Your Blood Sugar
Quitting smoking can temporarily increase your risk of developing diabetes. But if you keep smoking you’re also more likely to develop diabetes, so this isn’t a reason not to quit. You will, however, have to watch your blood sugar and weight gain as you leave smoking behind you. Even though you’ll crave sugar, try not to reach for sugary or high-carb foods. You should eat something, though. WebMD recommends that you don’t diet while trying to quit smoking. Instead, focus on eating regular meals of clean, healthy foods that taste good and make you feel good at the same time.
2) Cultivate Mindfulness
Quite a few people smoke because it helps them relax. If that’s one of your reasons then you’ll need to find an alternative way to relax after you quit. Deep breathing or other related techniques will help to a certain extent. But if you take that a step farther and start cultivating a meditation practice it’ll be even more useful. Mindfulness and meditation help you develop the habit of pausing to think about your actions. Starting a meditation practice before you quit smoking can help you switch off your auto-pilot and so you’ll catch yourself before lighting up that next cigarette.
3) Detox While Quitting
Once you quit smoking, you’ll want to get the nicotine and other toxins out of your system. You can wean yourself off gradually with things like nicotine gum or patches or quit cold-turkey. Either way, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms. Going to a sauna can help increase circulation and flush toxins associated with smoking out of your system. Also be sure to drink plenty of water and eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s free of new toxins.
4) Support With Supplements
Your biggest dietary focus should be on supporting your body with clean foods that contain fewer chemicals and more nutrition. However, there are some foods that are particularly helpful while you quit smoking. Try eating foods high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and vitamin E. You can also support your liver’s production of glutathione with whey protein or take glutathione capsules. There’s also evidence that taking supplements containing L-tryptophan or 5-HTP can help support your body’s serotonin balance. Be sure you check with your doctor before taking these supplements, especially if you’re on antidepressants or anxiety medication. You can also take holy basil to help repair lung damage from smoking
5) Start Exercising
Activity can help curb some withdrawal symptoms. And if you get moving it will also burn calories to help prevent some of the weight gain associated with quitting smoking. Exercise can also serve as a distraction from your cravings. Plus it’s healthy for you anyways, and if you can replace an unhealthy habit with a healthy one your body will have another reason to thank you.