Overcoming nicotine cravings is not mince meat because cravings can be intense in the first few days of smoking cessation. It’s actually the reason many smokers intending to quit relapse. All the same, cigarette cravings can be curbed without medication. But, why exactly do smokers intending to quit experience severe tobacco cravings? It’s because of the addictive nature of nicotine.
How Nicotine Affects You
Nicotine is a highly addictive element found in tobacco. Each time you expose yourself to it through smoking, it makes you feel high. You wish for more and so, you keep smoking or chewing, as the case may be. And if your usual dosage no longer gives you the desired effect, you increase it to experience more pleasure. Regular exposure to nicotine makes you a heavy user and you suddenly realize you can no longer function normally without it. And so, when you quit smoking, your body reacts angrily. It craves for the usual shot of nicotine but when you refuse to budge, it starts protesting in the form of headaches, nausea, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, loss of concentration, etc
These symptoms of nicotine withdrawal usually manifest few hours after smoking cessation. due to the severity of these symptoms, some smokers opt for medication to cope. These medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help quitters through the terrible nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Some of these medications, like the nicotine gum, inhalers, sprays or patches, are premised on the belief that gradual cigarette cessation is best for effective stop smoking. Other quit smoking medications include Zyban and Chantix (which reportedly elicit weird side effects). While these medications have been successfully used by some quitters to quit, this article seeks to explore ways to overcome nicotine cravings without medication. What I’m going to talk about essentially is how to cope with the intense cravings that would arise should you desire to quit smoking cold turkey.
How to Curb Nicotine Cravings without Drugs
Before I discuss some of the ways to deal with cigarette cravings, I need to mention two things you must not joke with if you must succeed with your quit smoking attempt.
1. Just know that cravings will also pass. No matter how strong, intermittent and terrible they are; cravings are a temporary feature. The earlier you know and accept that, the better it would be for you as it would strengthen your resolve to hold onto your stop smoking decision despite the cravings. They may appear intermittently and lasting a few minutes each time they hit you but just know that they’ll pass away.
2. Delay and distract is a powerful and universally accepted way of dealing with cravings. Delay means wait a minute or two before giving in to the cigarette craving. The delay helps your mind to realign itself and start thinking straight. Secondly, distract means to do another thing, like weaving, painting, playing the piano, instead of smoking a cigarette. The fact that you’re doing something else distracts your mind from the need to smoke.
11 Ways to Battle Cigarette Cravings Naturally
* Exercise: Go for a walk, jog, run, join a gym, just do any physical activity that will make you break a sweat and feel high.Research has revealed that exercise and smoking are two incompatible habits. What this means, in essence is, you cannot exercise and still feel like smoking; it's either you exercise or smoke because exercise will give you the same pleasurable feeling that smoking gives, but in a more healthy way. So, get on your swimming gear and swim, dance or walk vigorously to sweat out the cravings. It helps to improve your overall health and keep your body and mind in good shape.
* Always have a healthy snack handy: Research has revealed that certain foods (alcohol, coffee, meat, etc) enhance the taste of tobacco and should be avoided while trying to quit smoking but crunchy snacks such as carrots, apples and celery, should be consumed as they help cope with cravings. What's more, these snacks help deal with the oral fixation of smoking and give you something to do with your hands.
* Get to places where you can't smoke: Whenever a strong craving to smoke arises, deliberately leave your house and get yourself to a place where you would be distracted, busy, and unable to smoke, even if you wanted. Such places include restaurants, churches, movie theaters, museums, hospitals, government buildings, shopping malls and nursing homes.
* Balance your blood sugar levels: You may not know this but the right food can help with cravings and withdrawal symptoms by balancing blood sugar levels. Nicotine cravings or urges arise due to a drop in blood sugar levels, causing loss of concentration, touchiness and a drop in energy levels. Eating healthy meals and high fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains may also help regulate the bowel (smoking and bowel action are often associated) and raise the blood sugar levels. Eating foods rich in protein are recommended while sugary and refined foods should be avoided at all costs.
* Get support, call when you need help: Whenever you're tempted to smoke, call a friend, accountability partner or family member for help. Doing this will always help you through intense cravings. Try it today!
* Change your daily routine: Because smoking cessation changes a lot of things in your life and routine, you must also change your routine to be able to cope. For instance, if you usually smoke while driving to work, by all means, avoid the steering wheel for a while and go to work by public transport. If you used to go out with friends after work everyday to drink and smoke, by all means, avoid such get-together as they have the potential to cause you a relapse.
*Use affirmations: Affirmations will also help you through the intense cravings you would not but experience few days after quitting. When you affirm and shout it loud, it will sink into your system and help you overcome the temptation to smoke. Each time a strong urge to smoke hits you, just tell yourself, “I’m a non-smoker and I choose to stay smoke-free. I’m not powerless in the battle over nicotine. I use my power to say no to cigarettes. I refuse to bow, I’m victorious.” Just keep saying these loud and clear, your craving would disappear once you don’t budge.
* Dump old friends and associations: If you have quit and find yourself associating certain events or occasions with smoking, like a night out with friends, smoking after a meal or when drinking coffee, you must dump such associations otherwise; you would find yourself giving in to the temptation to smoke. For instance, if you know you usually smoke after a cup of coffee, by all means, avoid drinking coffee until you feel more comfortable with your stop smoking decision.
* Clean up: Each time you're tempted to smoke, you can decide to clean up your environment and remove any paraphernalia that will remind you of your former habit like ash trays, lighters, cigarette packs, etc
Whether you decide to change the setting of your living room, clean your wardrobe or wash the car, these activities take time and exert physical energy. By the time you are finished, your craving would have passed and you will have the satisfaction of clean surroundings and a car.
* Keep a journal, write your way out of your cravings: Writing each time you experience a craving is a superb way to identify why you want to smoke. Consider physical cravings versus emotional and mental ones. Keep your mood in check, watch the foods you ate and the drinks you consumed (whether caffeinated or alcoholic). Check each entry later to find links or connections and pick out areas that still need to be worked upon.
* Drink lots of water: Each time a craving hits you, have a bottle of water handy to sip from. Doing this distracts your mind from the craving and helps to cleanse your body from the nicotine toxins that have made your body a home due to several years of smoking. It’s highly recommended that you drink water as if it’s going out of fashion while trying to quit.
There you have it; 11 natural ways to deal with nicotine cravings without drugs and any side effects. Won’t it be beautiful to try them one of these days? I bet it would.
I have taken my time to write this because I honestly don’t believe you need any medication to quit smoking. I believe cold turkey quitting is the most effective way to quit and the earlier we all accept that, the better. Just think about it, drug manufacturing companies tell you to get drugs to quit smoking because they stand to gain but what do you gain? Nasty side effects from the same medications they promised will take care of your smoking addiction! A word to the wise, they say, is enough!
And while you're processing that in your brain, let me quickly tell you that smoking cessation has immense benefits; some of which are listed here. Just read and dscover what you stand to gain if you stop smoking today!