A Recovering Smoker’s Guide to a Healthier Lifestyle

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A Recovering Smoker’s Guide to a Healthier Lifestyle

In an increasingly health-conscious world, it’s a relief to know that tobacco use around the world is slowly declining. Still, NPR’s latest piece on the topic — which you can read here — highlights a new report from the World Health Organization that indicates the numbers aren’t as high as hoped.

Countries around the world had set a goal of reducing tobacco use by 30% in 2025 from where it was in 2010. Today, rates are down about 25% from 2010, and we’ll likely slightly miss the 30% reduction goal. Additionally, WHO claims that only 56 countries will likely reach the goal at the rate we’re going.

While the statistics may seem like a downer, they’re also proof that tobacco control methods around the world are working.

Government policies and initiatives such as providing smoke-free environments, restricting or banning marketing or advertising, adding health warnings, and increasing prices have been instrumental in lowering smoking rates worldwide. In the US, 2022 saw 20% of adults using tobacco, down from about 30% in 2000.

Of course, smoking cessation, while a healthy and ideal goal, works differently for many people. Many recovering smokers tend to relapse and pick up the habit again over time due to various factors.

However, certain lifestyle changes and adjustments can help ex-smokers maintain their smoking cessation journey and stay healthy. Below, we’ll be sharing some tips for recovering smokers to live a healthier lifestyle post-cessation:

Smokeless alternatives

Smokeless products and alternatives are a great way to curb any cigarette cravings and commit to the cessation journey. Nicotine pouches have become a popular go-to for smokers and ex-smokers because of their tobacco- and smoke-free nature.

In recent years, they have become more accessible, and you can click here to find out more about LUCY pouches. This brand offers a discreet, spit- and stain-free experience with refreshing flavors from mint and wintergreen to coffee and fruit and contains high-purity nicotine to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.

Other health and wellness companies have also pivoted towards smokeless alternatives to promote smoking cessation.

Perrigo gained FDA approval for the company’s nicotine-coated mint lozenges in 2023. This product is available over-the-counter in varying nicotine strengths and is comparable to other nicotine lozenge brands like Nicorette to help reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Aerobic exercises

Another great way to lead a healthier lifestyle as a recovering smoker is to keep healthy and fit. Routine exercise can help you achieve this. Even if you aren’t used to physically demanding workouts, small amounts of light and moderate exercise daily can keep you active and help your body recover from the damage caused by smoking.

Over the years, researchers have considered the potential of aerobic exercise as an alternative smoking cessation intervention. For example, this study highlights how aerobic exercise training can improve mood and well-being and alleviate anxiety and depression — all of which are common concerns for recovering smokers.

Since study results over the years have not been able to confirm aerobic exercise as directly beneficial for smoking cessation, the findings indicate that routinely practicing aerobic exercises can help ex-smokers handle the side effects of quitting, including mood swings and irritability.

At the same time, aerobic exercise is accessible and more affordable, as you don’t necessarily need a gym subscription or home equipment to facilitate it.

Healthy diet

We’ve discussed the importance of maintaining healthy eating habits in a past post. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats provides a broad range of nutrients that contribute to your overall health.

For smokers and ex-smokers, the recipe we shared for a green smoothie bowl contains all the nutrient-rich foods like bananas, almonds, and grains that can help the body recover from smoking withdrawals.

Aside from the necessary nutrients, it also helps to prepare ready-to-eat snacks for when your mouth feels restless, or you feel like you need a smoke after eating.

You can try vegetable sticks such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, and green peppers, as these can be eaten without much preparation and are healthy for you. Alternatively, sugar-free gum, hard candy, or breath mints can also help keep cravings at bay.

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