Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Yet surprisingly, nearly one in every five adults smokes. The good news: The health benefits start just moments after you quit. In honor of the Great American Smokeout, this month, we’re sharing five surprising strategies that may help you or a loved one kick the habit for good.
1. Drink your milk
Milk doesn’t just do your body good; it may also help you quit smoking. According to one study from Duke University, smokers reported that drinking milk worsened the taste of cigarettes, making them less likely to want to light up. On the other hand, the study found that alcohol and coffee enhanced the taste of cigarettes. Watch this video of addiction specialist Mike Dow, PsyD to discover foods that may also help you kick the habit.
2. Hit the gym
Exercise is a proven crave-crusher. Simply walking every day engages your brain’s emotion centers, releasing mood-brightening compounds that dial down tobacco urges. Strength training likely helps the same way — by reducing stress and anxiety when you really want to smoke, and by relieving the uncomfortable effects of nicotine withdrawal. All it takes is two muscle-building sessions a week. Don’t have a gym membership? No problem. Try this 20-minute workout (no weights needed).
3. Chew on this
Lots of ex-smokers talk about how they miss the ritual of puffing on a cigarette when they quit. Chewing on cinnamon sticks – or flavored toothpicks – can help with the psychological aspects of withdrawal by keeping both your mouth and your hands busy. Plus, it freshens your breath. You can also place a cinnamon stick in your mouth, inhale and exhale until your craving is gone. Not a fan of cinnamon? Here are some other options that can help.
4. You are getting sleepy…
Results vary, but some researchers say hypnosis can help — in fact, some studies report a success rate of up to 66%. The key for hypnosis to work? You have to want to quit. Hypnosis helps you achieve a state of deep, focused relaxation in which you become open to suggestions that could help change your attitude toward cigarettes. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a qualified hypnotherapist who specializes in smoking cessation. (Find out if hypnotherapy is right for you. Take our quiz.)
5. Consider acupuncture
Some people are able to quit smoking with the help of acupuncture, even though research hasn’t proven that it helps. Acupuncture involves the placement of tiny needles in the body to release feel-good chemicals that could help manage the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Ask your doctor to refer you to a qualified acupuncturist. Find out what other ailments acupuncture can help treat.
For more quit smoking strategies, join us on Twitter November 21 for the Great American Smokeout Chat.