Most people like to do something physical when a nicotine craving hits—take a walk, do some exercises, breathe deeply…or all of the above. Some other ideas to fight cravings when you quit smoking or chewing include:
- Drink water. This not only gives you something to do, it changes the taste in your mouth. Water is best because it likely will not make you think of smoking the way coffee, beer, or soda might. If plain water is too boring for you, add a twist of lemon or try a flavored brand.
- Brush your teeth. This also changes the taste in your mouth. If you can’t brush right away, pop a breath mint or use a breath freshener.
- Eat a healthy snack. Got the munchies? Don’t let your sweet tooth go wild. Stock up on some healthy snacks like nuts, whole wheat crackers, raisins, baby carrots or celery, and light buttered popcorn to nibble on. You also can carry gum, cinnamon sticks, mints, lollipops, or hard candy for when you’re on the go and a nicotine craving hits.
- Chew a straw or toothpick. Just having something in your mouth can help you deal with a craving for a cigarette or smokeless tobacco.
- Keep your hands busy. If you miss the feeling of having a cigarette in your hand, play with a pen, straw, rubber band, small ball, or paper clip.
- Take a smoke-free break. If you can get away, take a short break and walk around the building, take some deep breaths (clean, smoke-free air!), or review your quit plan.
If nicotine cravings become frequent, review the triggers part of your quit plan. Stay away from as many of these triggers as possible. Whenever you resist the urge to smoke or chew, pat yourself on the back. Just saying to yourself “Yes, I did it!” can give you a boost.
Surviving the Social Scene
Imagine this scene: You just quit tobacco and you’re meeting your buddies at a bar. As a joke, one of them lights up and blows smoke right in your face. Now you’re annoyed with your friend…but you’re also craving a cigarette like crazy!
Dealing with social situations without smoking or chewing tobacco is going to test your willpower. But you can handle it. Here are some tips:
- Skip the smoke pit when you’re taking a break. If you need the time to talk with your supervisor or coworker, ask him or her to take a quick walk with you.
- Avoid going to smoky bars or clubs with your old smoking buddies. You can catch up with them later at the movies or at a nonsmoking restaurant.
- Keep your support group tight. Spend more time with friends who know you’re quitting and are supporting you. It’s no fun trying to quit smoking while your buddies are waving cigarettes under your nose and trying to get you to slip up.
- Find a way to say no. In your quit plan, you wrote down how to decline the offer to smoke or chew. Use those lines now. Try not to sound like you’re dying for a cigarette or dip, or people may keep pushing them on you.
- Avoid alcohol. Most tobacco users strongly link alcohol with smoking or chewing tobacco. Alcohol also lowers your willpower. Instead, have some juice, water, or a soft drink. If your pals tease you, remind yourself of the reasons you have chosen to quit smoking or chewing.
- Make a joke out of your quitting by carrying a straw or toothpick and pretending to light up your tobacco-free “cig.” Tell your friends you’re still saving up for some “real” nicotine-containing medication.
- Have an escape plan if a situation becomes too hard. Say you have a cold, a toothache, a hot date, or whatever works for you. Have your own car or carry taxi money with you.