It’s Wellness Wednesdays! We’ll talk about smoking cessation strategies designed especially for women. Smoking is one of the most preventable causes of death in the world, yet almost half of all smokers don’t even try to quit. Why? Quitting smoking is difficult; it’s not something most people can do on their own, and most people need the help of others. The best way to quit is to change your behavior and change your beliefs about smoking.
If you’re looking for a way to quit smoking, you might be surprised to learn that women are more likely than men to do so, according to the American Lung Association. Although women in the United States are less likely to smoke than women in other nations, they still make up nearly half of all smokers.
There’s a long, running debate about whether it’s more difficult for women or men to quit smoking. Some say that women who try to quit may have more difficulty than men because of the way their bodies metabolize nicotine. Regardless of the answer, one thing’s for sure. Everyone can give up tobacco if they find the right approach.
There are some things that are especially helpful for women who’ve had a tough time quitting smoking. These are some considerations that are especially helpful for women.
Nicotine Dependence for Women
1. Avoid the patch if you’re pregnant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise against nicotine patches for pregnant women. During pregnancy, women metabolize nicotine as much as 120 times faster, so the regular dose contained in the patch is ineffective. Nicotine replacement devices may work for women who are not expecting.
2. Learn about nicotine receptors.
Female smokers appear to have fewer nicotine receptors in their brain than male smokers. This suggests that giving up smoking for women is more complicated than just replacing nicotine.
3. Use alternatives to nicotine replacement.
Fortunately, there are many smoking cessation techniques that address more factors than nicotine alone. Browse online or consult your doctor to find out about your options.
Post-Smoking Weight Gain for Women
1. Love your body.
Women may be especially apprehensive about gaining weight if they stop smoking. Try to cultivate a healthy body image that lets you appreciate your individual beauty, regardless of your dress size.
2. Put moderate weight gain in perspective.
The average weight gain for former smokers is about 5 to 10 pounds. Smoking is much more risky than a few extra pounds.
3. Guard against obesity.
Obesity is a serious health issue. If you gain more than 10 pounds or continue to gain weight after 3 months, take prompt action to get back in control.
4. Exercise more.
Your metabolism may slow down when you give up cigarettes. Becoming more physically active will speed it up and improve your mood.
5. Manage emotional eating.
Women tend to have stronger tendencies to turn to food for comfort. Give yourself treats with no calories like bubble baths or time to read that new novel you’ve been dying to get into.
6. Curb your appetite naturally.
It’s easier to consume less when your hunger is satisfied. Sip water, herbal tea, or clear soup.
7. Ask your doctor about Naltrexone.
Naltrexone is a drug used to treat alcohol and drug addiction, but it also shows promise for helping female ex-smokers to avoid weight gain. Your doctor can help you determine if it might help you.
Additional Suggestions for Women Who Want to Quit Smoking
1. Explore behavior-based approaches.
The entire ritual of smoking is important to some women. Strategies like deep breathing and learning to deal with triggers, such as that morning cup of coffee that goes hand in hand with smoking a cigarette, can help women to persevere.
2. Find other ways to deal with stress.
It’s natural to reach for a cigarette when you feel tense. Form new habits like meditation or getting a massage.
3. Join a traditional support group.
Women are more likely to understand the value of social support. Ask your insurance provider or local hospital if they can recommend a group you can join.
4. Get connected through social media.
You can also find support on the Internet. Join an existing self-help group or start your own. Text each other words of encouragement.
5. Talk with your doctor about non-nicotine medications.
Many women find nicotine replacement devices helpful, but there are more options if you need them. Your doctor can tell you about a variety of drugs, including certain antidepressants, which have also been found to making quitting tobacco easier.
Quitting smoking is often the single most important thing you can do to improve your health. It’s a tough habit to kick, but you can do it with help. Whether you want to cut down, quit cold turkey, or use nicotine replacement products, there are many methods of quitting. The most effective method depends on your unique circumstances. In many cases, the choice is yours. Experiment with the best approaches for women and talk with your doctor if you need more help.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because your natural health and wellness is important. You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of poor health, including chronic disease, so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight, and maybe reverse some chronic diseases (if you suffer from them). In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
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