Dr. Olga Raz.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There are foods one can eat and habits one can adopt to prevent weight gain after quitting smoking, according to Dr. Olga Raz, head of the department of nutritional sciences at the Ariel University Faculty of Health Sciences and chief clinical dietitian at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. Raz revealed the diet before World No Tobacco Day (May 31), which will be marked here and abroad on Sunday.
Raz noted that eight hours after a smoker’s last cigarette, the body’s oxygen level returns to normal. After a week, the risk of heart attack already declines, and the former smoker notices a marked improvement in his or her ability to taste and smell. A year after quitting, the risk of heart attacks drops by 50 percent; after five years, the danger of getting lung cancer is halved. Ten years later, the risk of lung cancer is as low as people who never smoked.
“Quitting smoking improves blood circulation and reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes and lung diseases.
Kicking the habit helps improve your teeth and gums, and skin color and texture,” she said.
“ Smoking causes the creation of a series of deep wrinkles in the skin around the lips,” Raz added. “Smokers also suffer from chronic bad breath and an unpleasant body odor, and the voice becomes hoarse. Don’t forget the financial cost of smoking and the fact that parents who smoke are a bad example to children, who usually learn to smoke and become addicted as well.”
Many people nevertheless continue to smoke because of physical addiction to nicotine; habit; fear of failure; lack of support; depression; ignorance about treatment methods; and -- importantly -- the fear of gaining weight, Raz said.
A recent Harvard University study showed that, after eight years of follow-up, women who quit smoking more than 42 cigarettes a day gained an average of eight kilos; those who smoked up to 42 a day gained 5.6 kilos.
Ex-smokers gain weight due to a change in metabolism and greater consumption of food to compensate. Eating wholegrained diet bread, continued Raz, is a good way to overcome withdrawal symptoms.
In addition, eat a small, nutritious meal every three to four hours. Eat a small amount about an hour before bedtime.
In addition to wholewheat reduced-calorie bread, one can also eat whole-grained rice, oatmeal and pasta, as well as pulses (beans). Plenty of fresh vegetables are also recommended along with lean chicken, turkey, and fish and one egg daily.
Also eat one to three tablespoons of olive or canola oil daily and 10 glasses of water or non-sugared beverages.
Low-fat dairy products and a limited amount of fruit is also permitted. Avoid eating sweets. Finally, exercise and get enough sleep (at least seven hours a night).
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization stressed the health risks of smoking and advocated effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
“For World No Tobacco Day 2015, we are also calling on member countries to work together to end the illicit trade of tobacco products, as this criminal activity is a major global concern, involving health, legal and economic aspects, governance and corruption.
The illicit tobacco market may account for as much as one in every 10 cigarettes consumed globally, the WHO said. The European Commission estimates that illicit trade in cigarettes costs the EU and member states over $10 billion annually in lost tax and customs revenue.
The WHO also asked members to demonstrate how the tobacco industry has been involved in the illicit trade of tobacco products and how this amasses great wealth for criminal groups to finance other organized crime activities, including drugs, human and arms trafficking, as well as terrorism.