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Health & Wellness

Learn how TRICARE can help you live a healthier life.

Overcome Weight Gain

Food can be your friend or foe on the path towards staying tobacco-free. The fear of weight gain is one of the most common barricades to quitting, and you might worry that since you're not smoking or chewing anymore, you're going to gain weight. But you don't have to pack on the pounds just because you put down those cowboy killers. Studies show that three out of four people do not gain weight after they stop smoking.

Those who do gain weight only add 5 pounds on average. And some people actually lose weight after quitting. Many people who stop smoking have more energy and exercise more—a great way to keep extra weight at bay.

What's the link between quitting smoking or chewing and gaining weight?

Since you've given up nicotine, you might find yourself drawn to grabbing a snack instead of going outside for a smokebreak. For example:

  • You may have an increased desire for sweets.
  • You may feel like you are slowing down during withdrawal from nicotine.
  • You may snack more between meals.
  • You may feel like you need to do things with your hands and mouth.
  • You may feel bored.

Food for Thought

Being a non-smoker is not easy, and it involves practicing coping skills and making lifestyle changes. Set yourself up for success by being prepared and having your own plan in place!

  • Craving for a cigarette can often be mistaken for a hunger pang. Take a moment to readjust and find an alternative to lighting up, dipping, or grabbing a handful of empty calories.
  • Move more. Even if you do eat a few more calories while quit tobacco, you can burn them off by being more active. Take the stairs, go the long way, walk around a building before you enter it, take the dog for a long walk, and park far from where you're going.
  • Drink water. Water is so good for you at this time—not only does it flush gross stuff out of your body, but it will help you feel full.
  • Try to avoid foods that you associate with tobacco, especially heavy, fried foods.
  • Eat three solid and well-balanced meals a day to prevent an energy lag and increased hunger, which may result in overeating. Eating breakfast is especially important.
  • Plan ahead. Have healthy foods on hand for meals and snacks, and pick foods that require a lot of chewing. Fruits, veggies, and popcorn are great ideas!
  • Limit sweets. Chew sugar-free gum or eat hard, sugarless candy and popsicles if you want something in your mouth.


When you know what's lurking around the corner, you're better prepared to hold your own. So keep these thoughts in mind when you make your battle plans.

  • Gaining a few pounds is much better for you than continuing to smoke. Remember, being overweight is nowhere near as dangerous as using tobacco. In fact, smoking puts you at as much risk for health problems as someone who is 100 pounds overweight!
  • Exercising or just increasing your daily activity will help you diminish withdrawal symptoms, prevent weight gain, and improve your chances of successfully living a smoke-free life.
  • Start changing your exercise and eating habits before you quit. You'll be changing enough when you do quit, and this is an easy way to get a head start.
  • Exercise and healthy eating will help lower your bad cholesterol, too!

Last Updated 1/2/2018