Saturday, September 6, 2008

Should you Quit Smoking at the Same Time as you Diet?

Both smoking and weight can cause health problems, so which do you tackle first? Many individuals will gain weight when they stop smoking (see previous post about 7 reasons for weight gain) but few will start smoking when they go on a weight loss program (unless they are a former smoker who has relapsed). We do know now that smoking changes insulin levels and increases the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. I read an interesting article about arsenic in drinking water increasing the same risks and I wonder since arsenic is in cigarettes, if this isn't the causation mechanism in smoking?
There are two schools of thought about making multiple changes at once and I believe that either approach would work depending on the individual. The first approach is to make only one change at a time. Stop smoking and after you stabilize, set up a weight loss program. The idea is instead of making huge sweeping changes all at once, change in small incremental steps because small steps are easier to maintain.
The second approach is that it is hard enough to maintain any change that it is better to do it all at once because each change will reinforce the other. Since stopping smoking can cause weight gain, wouldn't it make sense to work on that issue at the same time, to avoid any weight gain?
To avoid weight gain after quitting, those that are aware of the reasons of weight gain and that have a plan to avoid the traps, are more likely to be successful at minimizing weight gain and be successful at quitting than those with no plan. The combination use of bupropion (zyban) and nicotine replacement products for the first 6 months after quitting can also minimize weight gain. Those who gain the most weight are at a high risk of relapse because the common thought is that-"I'll go back to smoking, lose the weight and then quit again." Unfortunately, as we all know, once the weight is on, it's very difficult to take it off and the individual who relapsed never gets around to quitting again.

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