Summer Sense: Rediscovering smells and tastes after smoking

Summer Sense: Rediscovering smells and tastes after smoking

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We’re in the thick of summer, and the heat is on! Whether you’re heading to the beach or just enjoying staying inside where it’s air-conditioned, something we can’t escape are the smells and delectable tastes of summer. If it’s been 3 weeks since your last cigarette, you’re bound to notice a difference around you.

Something that not all smokers necessarily realize is that many foods begin to lose their flavor over the years as chemicals in tobacco begin to restrict the range of taste. In fact, these chemicals can also cause changes to the region of the tongue where taste buds are found. Although each smoker experiences this change differently, the intensity and bitterness of flavors can be most drastically affected. For many people, this means that they can finally discern differences between types of coffee or chocolate, or how certain subtle aromas, like green peppers or freshly cut cucumbers, are ones they don’t recall smelling before. Still, the good comes with the bad: some former smokers have also mentioned how unaware they were of the strong pet odors around their home, or that the city in which they live in smells a bit funky.

This month, we’re sharing some of the tastes and smells that people have re-discovered once they’ve quit smoking. What are some of your experiences? Please share via Twitter (@SayonaraSmoking), Facebook (SayonaraSmoking) or in the comments below.

Regaining your Senses of Taste and Smell after Quitting

Regaining your Senses of Taste and Smell after Quitting

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Eating and enjoying delicious food is one of the greatest pleasures in our life. But many people who start smoking experience a change to their sense of taste and often complain that food does not taste as good as before, or that they lost the ability to properly perceive the taste of a particular food.

This condition, medically known as dysgeusia or a taste disorder, is caused mainly by nicotine and tar – two harmful substances contained in tobacco, which damage your taste buds, the tiny structures in your mouth involved in detecting flavors.

Another typical symptom experienced by almost all smokers is a dulled sense of smell. That explains why smokers feel comfortable in places where the air is filled with tobacco smoke, while non-smokers can hardly endure staying in such places. Smokers very often do not realize that their body or clothing reek of tobacco smoke, unless someone tells them.

Actually, your ability to appreciate the good taste of food depends not only on our sense of taste, but also on other senses – smell, sight and hearing. Out of the five senses, the most important are the sense of taste and smell. So, if you are a current smoker and have a disorder of either taste or smell, you obviously cannot relish your food to the max, nor can you recognize the subtle changes in the taste of food. That is why chefs and professionals working in the food industry should be non-smokers and why smoking is prohibited in all first-rate restaurants that promise to deliver food of top quality and taste.

Think about how high price you pay for your habit: as a smoker, you deprive yourself of a great joy in life – relishing delicious food.

Smoking does not affect only your ability to sense the taste of food, but it has a serious influence on your capability to recognize various tastes correctly, such as the bitter taste of coffee. A dulled ability to perceive bitterness can signify decreased ability to avoid toxic substances. On the other hand, successful quitters report changes in their perception of taste of particular food – some people start disliking the dishes or foods they used to be fond of.

Knowing all this may make you worried about whether your damaged senses will ever come back to normal.

The answer is yes: they will regenerate gradually after you quit smoking. After a relatively short time, nicotine will be metabolized and removed from your body. At the same time, your neurotransmission will return to normal and your five senses will be revived. Your damaged taste buds will recover relatively quickly and your ability to relish delicious food will be among the greatest rewards you will get for your efforts in quitting smoking.

Still, you should be careful about several things.

  1. Smokers tend to lack zinc, so try to increase your zinc intake in your diet, as a zinc deficiency is one of the causes that triggers taste disorders. You can get zinc in the form of supplements, but a lot of zinc is contained also in beef and oysters.
  2. Once your sense of taste is recovered, you should carefully watch your caloric intake, not to overeat. It is highly recommended to get involved in some sports activity, in order to avoid unwanted weight gain after smoking.
  3. Don’t skip your meals and try to eat regularly, to avoid the sudden cravings for a cigarette that can attack when you feel too hungry.
  4. Always keep some healthy snacks or emergency food on hand to help you fight the urge to smoke. While you are attempting to quit, it is recommended you take at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  5. When eating, try to avoid bars and other places where smoking is not prohibited. You can enjoy your food with non-smoking friends and family members.

Once your senses are revived, you will be able to taste and smell food in a completely new way, so quitting smoking will not only improve your health, it will make your life more enjoyable and happier.

How to control your weight after quitting smoking

How to control your weight after quitting smoking

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Many current smokers presume that when they kick the habit, their body weight will start growing rapidly. The fact is that although some people can gain as much as around 19 pounds in the first year after they stop smoking, other studies have found that weight gain peaks in the first 6 months after quitting and that many quitters will return to their original weight over the following 12 months.

Still, if you’re considering quitting but are still concerned with the risk of weight gain, you can calm down – research shows that ex-smokers who keep themselves physically active and exercise regularly have a bigger chance of efficiently controlling their weight compared to those with a sedentary life style.

Several surveys have been carried out with the aim of finding a relationship between weight gain and physical activity. The findings very clearly show that staying physically active is the key factor for successful weight control.

A study aimed at a sample group of 9,000 American women showed that in case of mild smokers (who smoked 24 cigarettes a day or less), who did an intensive workout or were involved in other similar physical activities for at least 1-2 hours a week, the women gained on average only 4.9lb (2.2 kg) during the survey period of 2 years, while heavier smokers (smoking more than 25 cigarettes a day), gained almost double – 9.7lb (4.4kg) on average. Further findings showed that if the women exercised for more than 2 hours a week, their body gain increase would be reduced to 3.3lb (1.5 kg) in lighter smokers and 3 kg in heavier smokers respectively.

Increased body fat storage is attributed to the metabolic slowdown that follows the non-presence of nicotine, since nicotine, similarly to caffeine, has the ability to mildly boost the body’s metabolic activity. Nicotine and hence smoking also influence other mechanisms related to the sense of taste, and these changes can increase feelings of hunger and appetite after people quit smoking.

These mechanisms haven’t been completely clarified yet, but the research results demonstrated that 70% of body weight gain can be attributed to the increase in energy intake. One study showed that the calorie intake in women who stopped smoking increased by 227 kcal per day on average (both in drinks and meals).

So, very simply – if you are trying to quit smoking, but want to avoid weight gain, the key to success is to balance your energy intake and output with sufficient physical activity.


A 5-point plan

  1. Adopt a habit of doing regular physical exercise for at least 2 hours a week. This can include anything from walking, jogging, riding your bike or just going upstairs on foot instead of taking the elevator at your office every day.
  2. If you decide to go the gym, try to include at least three 25 min strength-training exercises into your workout routine. This in turn will also help to prevent the slowdown of your metabolism.
  3. Keep a log of your daily food intake, as well as the time when you take your meals during the period of at least 5 days before the day when you actually stop smoking.
  4. Continue to keep these records. Compare your current data with past records and try to define the periods when you tend to overeat and also what kind of food you were eating.
  5. Learn how to control the hard moments of sudden hunger attacks by having something small and healthy to bite into – a piece of fruit, sunflower seeds or some other low-calorie, low-fat snacks. This doesn’t mean you need to starve or do excessive dieting. You already made a critical decision – you want to quit smoking because you want to do something good for your health. Being healthy means you should eat healthy.

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