You Don't Have to Gain Weight When you Quit 

Are you one of the thousands of people in Ontario who are thinking about quitting smoking this year? Fear of gaining weight shouldn't keep you from reaching your smoke free goal.

Quitting doesn't automatically mean you'll gain weight. The average person gains less than 10 pounds when they quit smoking, but you can quit and maintain your current weight.

Smoking raises your metabolism (nicotine can cause your heart rate to increase by as much as 33 beats per minute) and reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. This makes your heart work harder and makes you a prime candidate for a heart attack or stroke.

One of the immediate benefits of kicking the smoking habit is that food tastes and smells better. When people gain weight after they quit, it's usually because they are eating more. They replace cigarettes with food, and try to quell the nicotine urge with snacks. With a little planning, you can keep your weight under control.

Keep your hands busy. Doodle, write a letter, do a crossword. 

When you do need to put something in your mouth, try low-calorie snacks such as sugarless gum, unbuttered popcorn and pretzels, a carrot or celery stick, or even a toothpick.

If you skip meals you may be more likely to crave nicotine and to overeat later in the day. Try eating several small meals throughout the day. Meals should include a variety of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lower fat milk products, leaner meats and meat alternatives. 

Drinking lots of fluids will help flush the nicotine from your system. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol may trigger a cigarette craving - especially if you used to have a cigarette with your coffee or alcoholic beverage. Caffeine can make you more nervous and anxious, so try switching to decaffeinated versions of coffee, tea and colas.

Exercise will boost your metabolism, decrease nicotine cravings and make you feel and look better too.

Within 90 days of quitting smoking, you'll start to experience whole days where you won't crave a cigarette. That's the time to work on any weight gained, and that's when you'll have the extra energy to do it.