Quit Smoking: 10 Ways to Resist Tobacco Cravings
Tips to resist tobacco cravings (Photo: Medicinenet)

For most tobacco users, tobacco cravings can be overpowering, but it is important not to succumb to these cravings. Although the cravings can feel intense and cause anxiety, they are temporary. With appropriate measures and a support system, with time, it is possible to permanently overcome the cravings and quit tobacco smoking or chewing.

There are two types of cravings people experience in the early days of smoking cessation:

Physical cravings: Your body's reaction to nicotine withdrawal can be felt physically.2 Physical cravings are usually experienced as a tightness in the throat or belly, accompanied by feelings of tension or anxiety.

Psychological cravings: These are triggered by everyday events. Smokers develop a plethora of cues that signal the need for a cigarette. Perhaps you light up whenever facing stress or smoke while driving, eating, or socializing. When you quit, those subconscious cues trigger profound urges, cites verywellmind.

  1. Nicotine replacement therapy: The options for nicotine replacement therapy include the following:
    • Nicotine is a nasal spray or inhaler, which may require over-the-counter nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges
    • Non-nicotine medications to stop smoking such as Zyban (bupropion) and Chantix (varenicline), which require a prescription.
    • Every smoker understands that smoking is also an oral addiction. When you quit smoking your brain will still crave the oral sensation of a cigarette. As part of your smoking cessation plan, stock up on oral substitutes like gum, raw vegetables, carrot sticks, hard candy, coffee stirrers, straws, etc.
    • If you’re planning to use nicotine replacement or smoking cessation drugs, talk to your doctor at this point. Learn how to use them. Find out about potential side effects and what to look out for, as suggested by Addictionsandrecovery.

  2. Avoiding triggers: Situations during which one smoked or chewed tobacco, such as at parties, while drinking, or in stressful situations. Identifying trigger situations, avoiding them entirely, or coping with them by finding methods of distraction without using tobacco would help.
  3. Delaying and positive reinforcement: When a tobacco craving arises, delaying smoking or chewing tobacco by finding excuses or going to smoking-free areas till the craving disappears can help. Giving in to the feeling of “just one” can bring back the habit of smoking or tobacco chewing.
  4. Coping mechanisms: Various coping mechanisms can help overcome tobacco cravings. Chewing gum, candy, nuts, seeds, or anything chewy or crunchy can be helpful. Brushing teeth leaves a clean feeling in the mouth and can help get rid of cigarette/tobacco cravings. Distract oneself by doing other activities such as doing the dishes, watching TV, playing with pets, or talking to friends and family to overcome cravings.
  5. Physical activity and hobbies: Physical activity such as exercise, sports, yoga, brisk walks, and even dance can help create a distraction from tobacco cravings and reduce their intensity. If physical activity is not possible, cultivating hobbies such as writing, art, and craft or even chores can be equally helpful.
  6. Stress management: Stress management is essential for those who had the habit of smoking or chewing tobacco and those who develop cravings due to stress. Managing stress by practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises, yoga, visualization, massage, or listening to calming music can help.
  7. Diet:
    Quit Smoking: 10 Ways to Resist Tobacco Cravings
    Photo: Everyday Health
  8. Diet: Cigarettes contain chemicals that curb your appetite, so food cravings are also a big part of withdrawal. It’s common to gain 5 to 10 pounds in the first few weeks. Eating can also become an activity that helps you deal with nicotine cravings. Be mindful of this and keep healthy snacks on hand. Drinking plenty of fluids and green tea and avoiding coffee and black tea especially during the first few days of quitting can help flush out nicotine faster. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can help improve digestion and overall health and combat tobacco cravings.
  9. Finding a support system

    If you are in distress, why go it alone? Instead, take a few minutes to connect with someone you care about. Not only will your spirits be lifted, but your mind will also be distracted away from any thoughts of smoking.

    Connecting with friends and family can help stay motivated and cope. Doing activities with friends and family can help distract from cravings. One may also consider working with a professional therapist to help suppress cravings and manage stress. There are various support groups available online and offline where people can help each other quit tobacco.
  10. Remind oneself of the benefits

    List Your Reasons for Quitting

    This is a simple affirmation that allows you to overcome your ill emotions with hard intellect. By weighing the pros and cons, you remind that there are benefits and consequences to every action. Writing it down helps reaffirm why you began this journey and what you need to do to succeed.

    Moreover, putting it on paper will not only clarify your thoughts but prevent you from rationalizing any slips you may experience. ("It was only one cigarette.") If you make a habit of penning the list every time an urge hits, such as in a journal or diary, you may even be able to see how much progress you are making.

    Constantly reminding oneself of the benefits of quitting tobacco by either writing them down or saying them out loud will be helpful. The benefits could be things such as getting healthier, sparing loved ones from second-hand smoking, and saving money.
  11. Positive reinforcement: Rewarding oneself after overcoming a craving can help stay motivated.
  12. Head to a public place where you can’t smoke: When you go to the places that you are not allowed to smoke, you can get rid of cigarette craving.
  13. Be active: One thing that deters many people from quitting is the fear of gaining weight. You can help avoid that while distracting yourself by doing small things to stay active. If you're going to pick up a new habit to replace the old, it might as well be a healthy one, right? Some activities that can help you such as: going for a walk, going to the gym and work-out, trying new exercise routine, etc.

  14. Embrace Relaxation

    Possibly more important than anything else, do what you can to take care of your mental and physical health. Learning how to relax (and actually enjoy it) can do wonders for your outlook during this transition. Take some time for yourself and enjoy the moment, the rest you get will do you good.

  15. Distract Yourself at Home

    When you're not spending so much time smoking, you will be amazed at what you can get done. This is your chance to knock off your to-do list around the house and there's probably plenty to keep you busy.

    Some of these chores are just busy work and they might not even need to be done. However, they will keep your hands busy and offer an hour or two of distraction. Besides, when things are clean and organized, you'll feel better, according to verywellmind.

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