Why Do You Eat More After Quitting Smoking?

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

The 3 Week Diet

You quit smoking and suddenly you wanted to eat every now and then. It’s frustrating but you just can’t get hold of your appetite. If this doesn’t stop, those lines in the weighing scale will soon pile up.


Cigarette On Dinner PlateWell, it’s totally normal! The sudden increase in your appetite after quitting smoking is a natural reaction of your body. It can be attributed to two factors – your physical and psychological withdrawal from nicotine. Understanding these two factors can help you curb your appetite and avoid the extra weight gain after quitting.

Smoking and Your Body

Research have shown that cigarette smoking affects your body chemistry and these changes influence your appetite.

When you smoke, you inhale nicotine and it is quickly absorbed into your blood. In just 7 seconds, nicotine starts to affect your brain. When nicotine reaches your brain it releases adrenaline, your “flight or fight” hormone.

As a result, your heart beat and blood pressure increases, and blood flow is restricted. At this rate, you’ll experience shallow but rapid breathing. Adrenaline also causes the release of extra glucose into your bloodstream.

Smoking also affects the release of insulin into your body. Insulin maintains the right amount of sugar in your blood. What nicotine does is it inhibits the secretion of insulin. As a result, smokers become slightly hyperglycemic. This means they have greater amounts of sugar in their blood compared to non-smokers. With the increase amount of sugar in the blood, smokers don’t feel hungry often. The blood sugar works as an appetite suppressant. Remove nicotine from the equation, your sugar level will be restored to normal, so as your appetite.

Replacement for Smoking


There could be several reasons why you are most likely to turn for food as substitute to smoking after quitting:

It’s a habit. Smoking has become part of your life. The years you spent with cigarettes has thought you to act or react to smoking as if you were born with it. From the way you light a stick of cigarette, to how you react to certain situations. When you’re tired, you light up. Sad, angry, bored – you smoke. It’s always the first thing you reach for.


Your sense of taste improves. You can appreciate the food better now. With your most of your taste buds restored, food is more appealing.

You find comfort in food. Quitting smoking is uncomfortable. Most former smokers finds the immediate feeling of well-being and comfort in food. Eating becomes a coping mechanism for most ex-smokers.

Your eating pattern is restored to normal. Most smokers skip meals especially breakfast. Cigarettes and a cup of coffee makes the usually meal for some smokers. Once you start eating regular meals especially in the morning you can add a few calories which were not available before you quit.

The “hand-to-mouth” habit. Putting food from your hand to your mouth becomes an immediate substitute to your old smoking habit. Picking healthier foods lessens your chance of gaining extra weight.

Quitting smoking is quite difficult and is very uncomfortable. And eating becomes an easy retreat. The best way to avoid that extra pound is to keep your snacking under control. Another trick is to pick healthier foods like vegies and fruits. Weight gain can lead you back to smoking.


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