If you’d love to stub out cigarettes but are worried about the effect on the scales, we can help. With the right support, gaining weight doesn’t have to be a given when you stop smoking. In fact, it’s been shown that some smokers who joined Slimming World were even able to lose weight while quitting.
A study conducted by Coventry University’s Centre for Intelligent Healthcare*, published in leading medical journal the BMJ Open, followed 76 smokers who were all offered support to help them quit. Of this group, 37 were also invited to take up a free 12-week membership to their local Slimming World group.
Seventeen percent of the smokers in the trial successfully managed to stop smoking, and changes in their weight were analysed over time. Those who just focused on quitting gained weight steadily, whereas those who also joined Slimming World had lost weight at each follow-up point.
After 12 weeks, those who had been supported at their local Slimming World group had lost an average of 2.9lbs. This represented a 5.1lb average difference in weight between the quitters who joined Slimming World and those who didn’t.
MORE BELOW: 10 snacks to help curb hunger pangs
How Slimming World can help
Carolyn Pallister, Nutrition and Health Policy Manager at Slimming World, says: “It’s a widely held belief that when you try to stop smoking you put on weight, but we know this doesn’t have to be the case.
As your appetite and sense of taste come back – and with the habit of needing to hold something in your hand – you may reach for food instead of a cigarette. But with the right support to make behaviour changes, you may even be able to lose weight when you give up smoking.”
10 tips on how to quit smoking and manage your weight:
Choose a healthy eating programme: Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan helps you lose weight by filling up on plenty of satisfying low-energy (low-calorie) food, so you’re less likely to reach for high-fat/sugary snacks when cravings hit.
Get support: Changing habits isn’t always easy, and having support to lose weight can help with your commitment and accountability. Joining a Slimming World group is a great way to make lifestyle changes. Your Slimming World Consultant and fellow members will understand your challenges, and you’ll share tips to help overcome them. The sense of achievement you get from losing weight can help you to stay committed to your stop smoking goals, too.
Look up your local stop smoking service: With their expert help, you’re three times as likely to stop smoking successfully than by using willpower alone.
Talk to a healthcare professional: Your GP, practice nurse or community pharmacist can also provide support, and, if it’s appropriate, advise you on stop-smoking aids that are suitable for you.
Increase activity gradually: Adding activity into your daily life can help to distract you from cravings. Use the stairs instead of the lift, walk short journeys instead of driving, wash the car by hand, or join in with your children’s games. Slimming World’s Body Magic programme helps members build activity into their day-to-day routine.
Tell family and friends: They can offer you support – and you never know, you might inspire them to make a healthy change to their lives, too.
Remember your goal: Write a ‘for and against’ list and carry it around with you to remind yourself why you wanted to give up smoking.
Track your progress: Mark off each day you’ve been cigarette-free, knowing every day you’ve chalked up is bringing huge benefits to your health.
Use the extra pounds (in your purse!): Treat yourself to a new outfit, a haircut or a pamper session with the money you’ve saved from not buying cigarettes.
If you’re already a Slimming World member and want extra support while stopping smoking, ask your Consultant for the ‘Stop smoking and still lose weight’ leaflet.
Brian’s 10st success story
Brian Farmer is one Slimming World member who successfully slimmed down while stopping smoking. He’s now lost 10st and has completely transformed his lifestyle and health. He says:
“I walked into my local Slimming World group weighing 22st 9lbs, with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, constant tiredness and depression. A year into my weight loss journey, I’d completely changed my eating habits – ditching the greasy food and takeaways – and I decided it was time to tackle another unhealthy habit, smoking. As someone who smoked 40 cigarettes a day, I was nervous that quitting would mean putting the 5st I’d lost back on, but the other members of my Slimming World group pulled me through all of my doubts and put me in the right mindset to quit.
Now 10st lighter, I feel like a different person. I’m a non-smoker, I’m active and can run around after my granddaughter, and my health is so much better. I’ve even achieved my dream of becoming an HGV driver. Life is great and I’m looking forward to what the future brings.”
Healthy snacks can help curb hunger pangs
Brian’s top stop smoking tip is to snack on fruit – and having healthy snacks to hand is a great idea.
When smokers quit, they often say they miss the habit of lighting up a cigarette or having something in their hands or mouth, and that can lead to them reaching for less healthy foods. Some people also report feeling hungrier – however, it’s easy to mistake nicotine cravings for hunger.
If you find that you want to eat more while stopping smoking, enjoying meals that are full of foods that satisfy the appetite for fewer calories – like fish and lean meat, fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice and potatoes (which can be eaten freely on Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan) – can help to avoid that hungry feeling. Prepping low-calorie snacks, like fruit, vegetable sticks, cherry tomatoes and chicken drumsticks (with the skin removed) is a great tip, too. Having these ready will give you something to busy your hands, as well as giving you some easy, healthy choices when cravings strike.
10 snacks to help curb hunger pangs
1. Corn on the cob
2. Cherry tomatoes
3. Seafood sticks
4. Fresh or frozen fruit
5. Fat-free yogurt
6. Low-fat/virtually fat-free cottage cheese (have it as a dip)
7. Carrot sticks and celery batons
8. Hard-boiled eggs
9. Pepper slices
10. Lean chicken drumsticks (with skin removed)
A healthier future
The health risks caused by smoking are well known – and with research suggesting that losing weight can lower your risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19, there may never have been a better time to consider quitting and managing your weight at the same time.
The results of this trial show that weight gain isn’t an inevitable consequence of quitting and, in fact, it is possible – with weight-management support – to slim down at the same time.
If you’d like our support to help you lose weight while stopping smoking, a warm welcome awaits you in your local Slimming World group. Contact your local Consultant to find out more. Together, we can do it!
*The Referral to Slimming World in UK Stop Smoking Services (SWISSS) versus stop smoking support alone on body weight in quitters trial was led by Professor Deborah Lycett from Coventry University’s Centre for Intelligent Healthcare and published in BMJ Open.