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Trying to quit smoking is a tough thing to do, however, keep in mind that it can be done. According to the Centre for Disease Control there are currently more former smokers than current smokers. Nicotine is the addictive drug that is found in tobacco and it is just as addictive as heroin and cocaine.

Due to the physical and psychological dependence created by nicotine, the barriers for quitting smoking are a real challenge which requires patience and persistence as you navigate the ups and downs to becoming a non-smoker. If this is your first attempt at quitting smoking, here are some of the roadblocks you may be up against.

The Dreaded Withdrawal Symptoms

Physiologic withdrawal is at its peak during the first two weeks of having your last cigarette. It is possible that you may relapse during this time however, knowing this will allow you to plan ahead. Withdrawal symptoms include: difficulty focusing, restlessness, fatigue, anxiety, irritability and increased appetite.

To manage these symptoms begin with nutrition; set yourself up for success by planning healthful meals. Include lean protein, healthy plant starches and green leafy vegetables in your lunches and try to avoid eating out at restaurants. Use your resources. Seek out your local community quit hotline and get some guidance from a hypnotherapist or psychotherapist who can help you get through this tough but rewarding time.

The Fear of Gaining Weight

Cigarette smoke increases your metabolism and reduces your appetite. It makes sense then that most people fear weight gain once they quit smoking. According to a 2008 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this explains why smokers tend to have lower body weight than non-smokers and why weight gain is common once you quit smoking.

However, remember that the long term exposure to cigarette smoke can actually increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. To combat the risk of weight gain, try becoming more active.

On average, you may gain 5 to 8 pounds after smoking cessation and this can be successfully managed by joining a gym, a run-walk club and by learning healthy eating tips from a naturopathic doctor or nutritionist.

The Loss of Your Social Network

For many people, smoking is a social activity. Therefore, if you are trying to quit, you may need to completely change your social network as being around people who smoke can worsen your cravings and draw you back down the road of a smoker. Think about what you will be gaining by becoming a non-smoker rather than who you are losing. You never know, perhaps your journey may inspire the people in your social network to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

By shifting your lifestyle to a healthier one, you will meet new people who will hopefully be encouraging of your quit journey.

The Intense Cravings

As a smoker, your brain is accustomed to and dependent on nicotine for its daily function. Once you stop smoking, your brain will sense the absence of the nicotine which will increase your desire to have a cigarette. The good news is that your body and brain will adjust to not having cigarettes, and this will become easier.

Breathing exercises are a great way to ease the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Also note that a craving will usually subside after 2 to 3 minutes. During this time you can distract yourself by making a healthy snack, engaging in mindfulness meditation or by going outside for some fresh air. As a craving comes on, this is the time to think about the many positive reasons for embarking on your quit smoking journey.

Smoking cessation is a life challenge, which can be met by many roadblocks along the way. Take time to understand what these barriers are and hopefully with some planning and will power, you can make the necessary changes prior to your quit date to increase your chances of success.

Dr. Olivia Rose
About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit - www.oroseND.com