You can help your loved one with diabetes win the battle against nicotine addiction. The trick: Try one of these simple stop-smoking tricks today.
It’s not just your lungs that take a beating when you smoke. For people with diabetes, the habit can increase the risk for vascular problems, kidney disease, retinopathy and other complications of diabetes. Even so, these scary facts might not be enough to convince your loved one to kick the habit.
According to the American Cancer Society, although 70% of smokers want to quit, only 4% to 7% can do it on their own. With your support, you can help your loved one beat the odds and start living tobacco-free.
Here are five obstacles that can derail a stop-smoking plan, and how you can keep your loved one on track:
Obstacle #1: Weight gain
Kicking the habit often means gaining weight; nicotine helps suppress appetite and may even boost metabolism. But the threat of a few extra pounds should never be an excuse to keep smoking.
What you can do: Grab some hand weights, and do a few bicep curls together. A study funded by the National Cancer Institute showed that a mere three months of pumping iron curbed cigarette cravings, minimized withdrawal symptoms and decreased weight gain risk. Participants, who also underwent counseling and recieved nicotine patches, were twice as likely to kick the habit as smokers who didn’t complete the strength-training program.
Obstacle #2: Stress
A common concern among smokers is that they’ll be unable to cope with stress without nicotine. But a study in the journal Addiction showed that people who successfully kicked the habit had lower stress levels than people who continued to smoke. Despite these findings, the road to quitting will undoubtedly be filled with moments of increased tension.
What you can do: Find a way to make your loved one laugh. Crack a joke, cue up their favorite sitcom on NetFlix or play a silly game. Laughter increases the feel-good endorphins released by the brain, cools the body’s stress response and stimulates circulation and muscle relaxation. If your loved one is tough to amuse, help them burn off tension by suggesting a walk or trying a yoga DVD together.
Obstacle #3: Oral fixation
The hand-to-mouth ritual of smoking is a tough habit to break, and your loved one may start fidgeting with their hands, biting their fingernails or snacking mindlessly on high-calorie munchies.
What you can do: Go grocery shopping together to find healthful snacks or props to satisfy the oral fixation experienced by smokers. Try toothpicks, straws, celery, sugar-free lollipops, cinnamon sticks and sugarless chewing gum. Added bonus: Studies show that gum chewing can boost memory, which may help ease the mental fogginess commonly associated with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
Obstacle #4: Relapse
The process of quitting can be a long, difficult road that may require multiple attempts. The average smoker tries to quit 8 to 11 times before finally kicking the habit.
What you can do: Pick up your cellphone and send a text. Sounds simple, but research published in Lancet suggests that motivational and supportive text messages more than double quit rates. According to the study, messages that focus on dealing with cravings and preventing weight gain are most effective. For example, the craving-related text in the study read: “Cravings last less than 5 minutes on average. To help distract yourself, try sipping a drink slowly until the craving is over.”
Obstacle #5: Social pressure
Smoking is often a social activity, so your loved one may not want to quit for fear of losing friends. Yet studies show that the urge to quit may be contagious, prompting a spouse, friend, coworker or sibling to stop smoking, too.
What you can do: Plan a potluck dinner with your loved one’s friends and family. During the meal, don’t forget to point out another benefit of quitting: an improved sense of smell and taste!