Experts reveal the best foods to eat to beat nicotine cravings this summer

A man sits outside and holds a slim menthol cigarette between his fingers. Close-up with focus on the cigarette.
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


Experts have revealed the surprising foods which can help beat your nicotine cravings this summer, while keeping your diet healthy. If you’re looking to transform your health and fitness game this summer, quitting unhealthy habits could be part of the bigger picture.

However, as the weather warms up, and people venture out to meet their friends more often, this can become a different resolution to uphold. So if your vice is indulging in a cigarette at the pub but you’re looking to break the habit, there are a number of foods that can help suppress the craving but also fill the ritual of smoking.

Experts from Go Smoke Free have created a list of the best foods to help curb your nicotine cravings, especially if you are trying to quit smoking this year. Eating the right food is important to maintaining optimal health, so you can work these foods into your meals and snacks..

According to the NHS, by being smoke-free for a year, your risk of heart attack will have halved compared with a smoker's. After ten years, your risk of developing lung cancer will have halved in comparison to a smoker.

Apples, carrots and celery

green apple, carrots and celery on marble background
Snacking on sticks of apples, celery or carrots can help to simulate the action of raising your hand to your mouth -Credit:Getty Images

One way to stop yourself from craving the urge to smoke is to keep your hands and mouth busy, but this doesn’t mean you reach for a chocolate bar. Snacking on sticks of fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery or carrots can help to simulate the repetitive action of raising your hand to your mouth, while also helping to keep your mouth occupied.

One 2007 study found that fruits and vegetables tend to worsen the taste of cigarettes, meaning that smoking should be less rewarding if you do end up having one shortly after. By cutting your fruit and veg into batons and having them readily available can help replicate the action of reaching for a cigarette when the urge strikes.

Milk, cheese and yoghurt

If you are still in the phase of reducing the number of cigarettes you have in a day, incorporating dairy products into your diet can help you with this goal. Smoking a cigarette after consuming dairy products can also leave a poor taste in your mouth.

Although studies are yet to discover the component that causes this, it is thought it could be a reaction between the lactose in dairy products and the tobacco smoke from cigarettes. In this case, milk is best known for causing this effect, but if a glass of milk doesn’t appeal to you, cheese and yoghurt can also do the trick.

Popcorn

Popcorn is another low calorie food which can help keep your hands and mouth busy when you are craving a cigarette. A lot of shop-bought popcorn contains oil, butter or sugar, which can increase the overall calories, but if you own an air fryer you can create a lower calorie air-popped alternative at home.

Ginseng

Ginseng tea and Dry Ginseng Roots
Studies suggest the ginseng can lessen the effects of nicotine -Credit:Getty Images

Similarly, ginseng can work to reduce the appeal of a cigarette, as studies suggest the ingredient can lessen the effects of nicotine. By weakening the effect, it decreases the satisfaction individuals get from smoking, and can therefore help them quit.

If ginseng tea isn’t really your choice of tea, you can add ginseng powder to smoothies, or you can even further and use the root vegetable in meals.

High fibre wholegrain foods

A common side effect that follows your last cigarette is that your appetite may significantly increase for a short time. By incorporating higher fibre foods, such as wholegrain bread and cereals, into your diet, you can help satiate cravings so you’re kept fuller for longer.

Fresh or frozen fruit

When you first give up smoking, it is a normal reaction to have food cravings and an increased appetite, with many finding themselves with a sweeter tooth than normal. While this can be satisfied by having a chocolate bar or packet of sweets, it’s important to try to keep a balanced diet, just so you don’t find yourself becoming reliant on these treats.

By swapping out sugary foods for fresh or frozen fruit, such as grapes, strawberries and oranges, you can manage the desire for sugar.

Sugar free gum or mints

Chewing sugar-free gum, or sugar free mints can also work to stop cigarette cravings, as it can preoccupy you and distract you from your mouth feeling empty. Make sure to opt for the sugar-free variety though, as sugar can make you crave cigarettes more, according to the American Cancer Society.

A spokesperson from Go Smoke Free said: “While stopping smoking is never going to be easy and often takes a lot of determination, making small changes to your day, such as having snacks of fruit and vegetables or having a glass of milk, can really help ease the process.

“It can also be beneficial to avoid certain food and drink that may trigger a craving. For example, coffee can set you off yearning for a cigarette, as the two are often consumed together.

“However, it may not be wise to try cut the two from your life at the same time, as the increased difficulty of giving up them both may make it too hard to achieve. Instead, try make sure you have some snacks of fruit or vegetables prepared for after your coffee to curb the craving.”

If you’re looking to quit smoking or are struggling to give up, the NHS offers services to help you. Its Better Health website also provides advice on the different ways you can go smoke-free .