Smokers are adept in compartmentalized thinking. All the expense, the fuss, the mess, the smell, the frustration of addition, and the very real fear of cancer and other medical consequences are pushed aside or buried deep in the psyche when they are actively smoking. When you get honest with yourself you know you want to quit. Who doesn’t want to be smoke free?
Smoking is a complicated addiction. There is much more at play than a simple addiction to nicotine. Smokers are addicted to the very act itself. Taking that break, the deep breathing involved, the camaraderie of other smokers–all of these factors come into play when you quit.
Prepare Yourself to Quit Smoking
First and foremost, break the cycle of self delusion. Do your research. I could do it for you, but the facts will deliver a bigger punch if you look them up yourself. How many die of cancer each year? Each day? How many other deaths are related to smoking? Check out a picture of smoker’s lungs verses healthy lungs and see the damage you have done! Know that your lungs can be pink and healthy again–the choice is yours.
Do a pros and cons list. Are there really any good reasons to keep smoking?
Stock up on the following:
- Vitamin C
- Lemons, cranberry juice without added sugar, cayenne pepper, stevia (recipe)
- B complex vitamins
- Calcium and magnesium
- Lots of fresh, organic, raw produce
- Fruit juice (without added sugar)
Stop buying cigarettes by the carton. Buy one pack at a time.
Pick a target date. Do not plan to stop when you know you will have to complete an important assignment or report. That report will become the excuse to go buy more cigarettes. It’s best to choose a day when you will be off work for a day or two (or more).
The night before you plan to quit, smoke that last cigarette, then clean house. Throw away all of your smoking paraphernalia–ash trays, lighters, cigarette cases. Drown any remaining cigarettes and cigarette butts. If they are wet, you can’t retrieve them from the trash. Take a B vitamin and get a good night’s sleep, you’ll need it.
Getting Through the First Few Days–The Blood Sugar Connection
The first three days will be the most difficult. The connection between nicotine and blood sugar is a major factor. Nicotine is a trigger to release blood sugar. Your body may need a few days to reset itself, to learn to release blood sugar on its own. Smoking a cigarette releases blood sugar in seconds, while eating takes twenty minutes or so. This is why cigarettes have been such a crutch when you have needed that boost of energy or clear thinking. It’s not just the stimulant effect of nicotine you crave–it’s the brain craving glucose as well.
This blood sugar connection is the reason so many people gain weight when they quit smoking. They replace that quick blood sugar release with foods that release blood sugar quickly–like candy. But this starts them on a roller coaster of rising and falling blood sugar. When the blood sugar plunges, they eat more sugar, and the nicotine cravings increase. If you avoid this trap, you won’t gain weight.
The first thing in the morning when you crave that first cigarette, drink a cup of juice. Then eat plenty of protein for breakfast. Do not eat sugar! Take your vitamins.
For the first three days (or longer if needed) eat throughout the day. The secret is to eat healthy, organic, nutrient dense foods. Stick to protein, fruits, and vegetables. Throughout the day, drink cranberry lemonade (see recipe below). It will help flush toxins out of your system. Aim for a gallon a day. That’s one cup every waking hour.
After breakfast, take the time to cut up a bunch of veggies to snack on throughout the day. If you are a meat eater, it is also a good time to cook some chicken wings or drumsticks or any other meat that you can grab cold out the fridge for a few bites of protein.
If cravings get really bad, drink a cup of fruit juice, but follow 30 minutes later with some protein.
After 3 days, ditch the fruit juice, but keep up the cranberry lemonade. It’s a good habit to continue.
Vitamins to Take When You Quit Smoking
- Vitamin C – 1,000 mg twice daily (remember to titrate down if you stop taking vitamin C)
- B Complex vitamins–1 or 2 a day (never take one B vitamin for any length of time–it will make you deficient in the others)
- Calcium and magnesium–once a day
Vitamin C will help you flush toxins and nicotine from the body. B vitamins will help you sleep and calm your nerves. Your friends, family, and co-workers will appreciate your taking B vitamins as well. Calcium and magnesium work together. Magnesium reduces stress. A forty minute epsom salts bath will release toxins and flood your body tissues with magnesium.
What to Expect When You Quit Smoking
You may find that you are really tired–and sleepy. This is due to both the blood sugar connection and the nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine is a stimulant, after all. Allow your body to rest. Sleep at will, but exercise as well. Your lymphatic system needs help to circulate lymphatic fluid and you need your immune system to help you detox. A brisk walk once or twice a day will benefit you in many ways.
When the cravings hit, you will experience both a physical reaction and an emotional one. That voice in your mind, that voice of addiction, will tell you any number of things from “One won’t hurt!” to “I can’t do this!” Talk back. Do it out loud. “Yes, I can!” or “Yes, one will hurt!” Say it loud and clear. But if the arguing with your inner voice continues past the first three days, dismiss it. Tell yourself that you will no longer listen to the voice of addiction.
Shillington has a couple of formulas that can help with withdrawals and healing from smoking.
- 1 part lobelia
- 1 part mullein
- 2 – parts Valerian Root
- 2 – parts Lobelia Seed Pods
- 2 – parts Passion Flower
- 1 – part Hops Flowers
- 1 – part Black Cohosh
- 1 – part Blue Cohosh
- 1 – part Skullcap
- 1 – part Wild Yam
Parts are by volume. Blend all ingredients together and make into a tincture using a 50 – 50 Blend of Alcohol (100 proof vodka) and distilled water. For more, see How to Make a Tincture.
What Else Can You Do to Help Yourself Through Withdrawals From Smoking?
Smoking involves behaviors that are as addicting as the smoking itself. The hand to mouth ritual, the deep breathing involved in inhaling smoke, the outside (hopefully) break in your daily routine, these behaviors are missed when you quit.
For the long term, learn how to breathe properly and consider taking up meditation or yoga. For the short term, take big deep breaths every time you think about smoking, and every time you think about breathing. Suck on a straw. Straws will allow you to repeat that behavior, the deep draw of air, the hand to mouth motion. You’ll be surprised how much this will help you when that craving strikes. If the whimsy appeals, follow this with blowing bubbles. It’s nice to think you are putting bubbles into the air instead of noxious smoke.
Go out and buy yourself some straws. Short fat ones are the best, of course. And buy some bubbles, the kind children blow.
You may quit for a weeks, months, or even years and find that nasty little voice comes back to tell you, you can smoke just one. Or that voice tells you that you can just smoke tonight while you are at this bar or this party. And guess what? You can. You can smoke one cigarette or a whole pack and not smoke the next day, but this slippery slope is the first step back to smoking. If you could have had a take it or leave it relationship with smoking, that’s what you would have had. But you didn’t, did you? And I would be willing to bet you have never know a single person who did. Smoking is an strong addiction. Unlike alcohol, which many people can enjoy in moderation, smoking is usually an all or nothing proposition. Alcoholics may be able to drink one drink–today. But once they start drinking, they will return to their addictive behavior. It is even worse for recovering smokers. When you quit, never ever smoke again. If you slip up–stop. Keep quitting until it sticks.
If you smoke a pack a day, you are spending $5.00-$6.00 dollars a day or more on a nasty, filthy, suicidal addiction. That’s $150.00 to $185.00 or more a month. What else can you do for yourself with that money? How about a massage every other week? A membership to a gym? Clothes? That special something you can’t afford but could save the money to buy? Consider putting that cash you would have spent on cigarettes into a jar where you can see the money you are saving each day. Whatever you buy with that money, spend it on yourself. You deserve it. You’ve won.