Vegetarian Diet for Quitting Smoking: Is It Helpful?
Quitting smoking entails much effort, and that is a scientifically-proven, unquestionable fact. Because of the addictive substances in tobacco cigarettes that are inhaled and affects every little part of the body, quitting would mean withdrawal symptoms and a whole lot of cravings. It is undeniably difficult to quit permanently, which is backed by statistics on quitting success rates and the like.
Over the past few decades, the number of smokers in the US has declined at a significant rate. However, the past couple of years showed a slowdown in the quit rate, with more and more people wanting to stop but are unable to do so whether in the short or long run. One of the contributing factors to the ‘slowdown’ is the poor, high-calorie diet that most Americans pursue.
An Unhealthy Lifestyle is Conducive to Smoking
High-fat, salty, and unhealthy food are often associated with smoking since they make tobacco taste better. A few examples are caffeine, alcohol, red meat, and processed foods. It is no wonder that drinking a cup of coffee or some alcoholic beverage is nearly impossible for smokers not to light a cigarette stick.
Unhealthy and stressful lifestyles create a more conducive atmosphere for smoking. Smokers tend to light up a cigarette whenever they are under pressure; feel down, anxious, hungry, or excited; or are tired and trying to relax regardless of venue or occasion. Smoking also has focus-inducing properties through stimulating the production of certain brain chemicals like dopamine, and so is found to be a handy wake-up tool for smokers in the graveyard shift.
While it is still possible to quit anytime, the occurrence of any of the abovementioned instances makes it harder to fulfill the decision to quit. It also encourages relapse.
A Vegetarian Diet Spells Overall Lifestyle Improvement
Switching to a vegetarian diet opens the door to an overall healthy lifestyle. Vegetarian means a substantially lower intake of calories by limiting your food intake from plant-based products such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, dairy products and eggs. A semi-vegetarian diet adds fish and chicken meat to the menu.
Vegetarian diet ranks number 11 on the US News’ list of best overall diets. According to the American Heart Association Meeting Report Abstract, vegetarians who have at least a 70% plant-based food sources had lower risks of cardiovascular disease.
It is vital to know that vegetarian is different from vegan diet, the latter being strictly confined to plant-based food sources, without the eggs, dairy, and anything that is derived from animals.
Among the two, a vegetarian diet may be easier to develop and practice due to the wider options that it offers. Nutrition-wise, it is also less complicated to make sure that you are getting the right amount of the required nourishment every day if you eat dairy, eggs, and white meat. Vitamin B is known to be found in animal products and is an example of a vital nutrient that keeps us from weakness, exhaustion, fatigue, anxiety, and nerve problems.
One you veer away from cholesterol-rich red meat, fast food, and processed junk, it is easier to avoid smoking. A study conducted by the University of Buffalo showed that higher fruit and vegetable consumption helps smokers quit the habit sooner and for longer.
In the said study, subjects with higher fruit and vegetable consumption levels were thrice as likely to be tobacco-free after 14 months. The rationale behind the findings of the study can be based on multiple factors.
First, that fruits and vegetables did not have the same nicotine-enhancing taste unlike caffeine, red meat, and processed foods. Second, plant-based food products had higher fiber content that made the person feel fuller for longer periods. Third, fruits and vegetables, in fact, make tobacco taste ugly.
Fourth, a vegetarian diet allowed for faster immune system and overall recuperation from the damages of unhealthy toxins. Fifth, fruits and vegetables made ex-smokers feel so much better and healthier, physically and emotionally. Sixth, vegetarians develop a more positive outlook for maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle to maximize the benefits of their diets. The list goes on and on.
A vegetarian diet not only keeps you healthy but also keeps you in shape when you quit smoking. Since there are minimal calories involved, smokers can be sure that quitting will not equate to weight gain, which is common among quitters due to the oral fixation that is diverted towards sweets and food binging. Raw vegetable salads and fruits are known to be effective diversions that can help smokers avert their cravings.
Of course, aside from a balanced vegetarian diet, nicotine replacement aids can also be used to help in quitting. The end goal is to cut finally the habit and achieve a fit and vigorous lifestyle by ingesting sufficient nutrition into your body.