Please note all page and chapter references in this article are from How to Quit.
- Before you even begin to try to give up cigarettes, we recommend following the How to Quit diet and supplement guidelines that follow strictly for one month, or until you no longer consume any other stimulants (such as tea, coffee and chocolate) or sugar. Instead you’ll be eating small, frequent meals, with an emphasis on foods containing slow-releasing carbohydrates combined with foods rich in proteins. Your background blood sugar balance will be much better, which means you’ll experience less withdrawal symptoms on quitting.
- Break all the associated habits. The average smoker is addicted not only to nicotine, but also to smoking when tired, hungry or upset, on waking, after a meal with a drink, and so on. Before you actually give up smoking altogether, it’s best to break these mental associations.
- At first don’t attempt to change your smoking habits. Just keep a diary for a week, writing down every situation in which you smoke, how you feel before, and how you feel after smoking. You can copy the example on page 304 seven times to record your one-week smoking diary.
When the week is up, add up how many cigarettes you smoke in each situation. Your list might look something like this:
- With a hot drink: 16
- After a meal: 6
- With alcohol: 4
- Difficult situation: 4
- After sex: 3
Steps to Help Quitting
- Now set yourself weekly targets. For the first week, smoke as much as you like whenever you like but not when you drink a hot drink. For the next week, smoke as much as you like whenever you like but not when you drink a hot drink or within 30 minutes of finishing a meal. Continue like this until, when you smoke, all you do is smoke, without the associated habits. Having said that, set yourself a maximum of six weeks to complete this phase. This will be tremendously helpful for you when you quit. Most people start again because the phone rings with a problem, someone brings in a coffee, offers you a cigarette… and before you know it you’re smoking.
- Put your cigarette butts in a big glass jar with a sealing lid. Fill it half with water. Keep this in clear view in your living room. You will begin to associate cigarettes with the nasty stuff in your jar.
- Now it’s time to reduce your nicotine load gradually. Week by week, switch to a cigarette brand that contains less nicotine, until what you smoke contains no more than 2mg per cigarette. Now reduce the number of cigarettes you are smoking until you smoke no more than five cigarettes a day, each with a nicotine content of 2mg or less. If you wish, stop smoking and replace it with nicotine gum as an intermediate step. (Nicotine gum comes in two strengths: 4mg and 2mg).
- You want to be down to a maximum of 10mg of nicotine a day before quitting – that is, five pieces of 2mg nicotine gum, or five 2mg nicotine cigarettes.
- Take the Basic Supplements and the Stimulant Prescription (see pg403)
- For the first week of quitting also take an extra 8g of vitamin CWhat it does: Strengthens immune system – fights infections. Makes collagen, keeping bones, skin and joints firm and strong. Antioxidant, detoxifying pollutants and protecting against… (there are two tablets in the basic supplement pack, so this gives you 10g in total). Buy some magnesium ascorbate powder. Put 8g of vitamin C in a bottle of half water and half juice. Drink it throughout the day. It is likely you will get slightly looser bowels.
- Also take chromiumWhat it does: Helps balance blood sugar, normalise hunger and reduce cravings, improves lifespan, helps protect cells, essential for heart function. Deficiency Signs: Excessive or… 200mcg: one with breakfast and one with lunch. This helps stabilise your blood sugar level.
- Take 50mg of niacin (nicotinic acid) twice a day. (You’ll probably need to buy a 100mg niacin tablet and break it in half.) You will experience a blushing sensation when first taking niacin. This is harmless and usually occurs 15 to 30 minutes after taking it, and lasts for about 15 minutes (so don’t take it at work). The blushing is less likely to occur if you take niacin with a meal, and will diminish and, in most cases, stop completely after a week if you keep taking it. The reason for taking this is that both nicotine and niacin occupy the same receptors in the brain – so giving yourself more niacin is likely to reduce your cravings.
- Eat an alkaline-forming diet: one that is high in fruit, vegetables and seeds. (It’s better to have a more alkaline-forming diet than one that is acid forming.) Also, make sure you are supplementing a total of 850mg of magnesiumWhat it does: Strengthens bones and teeth, promotes healthy muscles by helping them to relax, also important for PMS, important for heart muscles and nervous… and calciumWhat it does: Promotes a healthy heart, clots blood, promotes healthy nerves, contracts muscles, improves skin, bone and dental health, relieves aching muscles and bones,… combined. A good multivitamin will provide 300mg calcium and 150g magnesium, and there will be at least 500mg in the magnesium ascorbate powder noted above. These alkaline minerals will have an alkalising effect on your body.
- Whenever you feel the need for nicotine, first drink a glass of water and eat an apple or a pear. This will raise a low blood sugar level, which is often the factor that triggers such a craving.
- Improve your breathing. Your lungs are damaged by smoking and it’s really important to do something that stimulates breathing and their recovery. At least, go for a brisk walk every day, ideally in clean air or in the park. Any exercise that focuses on the breath, such as some forms of yoga and Psychocalisthenics, is ideal. This is a great time to sign up at your local gym or to start jogging, cycling or swimming.
- If you have difficulty sleeping, or are irritable or depressed, supplement 200mg of 5-HTP. This is an amino acid that the body converts into serotoninSerotonin is a hormone found naturally in the brain and digestive tract. It is often referred to as the ‘happy hormone’ as it influences mood…., an important brain chemical that controls mood. Nicotine withdrawal tends to lower serotonin levels. The supplement 5-HTP is best absorbed if you take it away from proteinProteins are large molecules consisting of chains of amino acids. Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body – they are a building block of… foods and with carbohydrateCarbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body as they can be broken down into glucose (sugar) more readily than either protein or… foods, so either take it on an empty stomach, or with a piece of fruit. And because serotonin levels rise at night, promoting a good night’s sleep, the best time to take your 5-HTP is one hour before bed.
- Another useful aid during the first month is liquorice, which promotes the action of adrenal hormones. Since nicotine acts as an adrenal stimulant, additional adrenal support can be helpful during the withdrawal phase. Liquorice is either available as a supplement or as a bar, but make sure you are getting the real thing. As far as supplements are concerned, the amount to take is 1–2g powdered root, or 2–4ml fluid extract, three times a day. Check the manufacturers’ instructions, as potencies can vary.
CAUTION Liquorice should be avoided by people with high blood pressure.
Detox your body to reduce cravings
One factor that helps to reduce cravings is boosting the body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate nicotine. There are five things you can do to speed up this process: exercise, sweating, drinking plenty of water and supplementing vitamin C and niacin. Put these all together, and you’ve got a winning formula for rapid detoxification. If you have access to a sauna or steam room, here’s what to do (most gyms have one or the other).
- Take 1g of vitamin C and 100mg of niacin.
- Go for a run or undertake any cardiovascular exercise that raises your pulse rate and stimulates circulation.
- Once you start blushing as a consequence of the niacin, enter the sauna or steam room. The sauna should never be at a temperature above 27°C (80°F).
- Take 1 litre (13/4 pints) water into the steam room with you and drink it at regular intervals.
- Do this for half an hour every day. This routine is not recommended for those with a history of cardiovascular disease. Although no danger is anticipated or reported, the combination of exercise, niacin and saunas is a substantial stimulation to circulation and detoxification.
The most important keys for you to follow are:
- Rebalance Your Brain with Amino AcidsAmino acids are commonly known as the building blocks of protein. There are 20 standard amino acids from which almost all proteins are made. Nine…. Read Chapter 7 in the How to Quit book to understand why you need specific amino acids to use your brain’s natural ability to wake up and relax without nicotine.
- Raise Your Methyl IQ with Vitamins and Minerals (Chapter 9) – check your homocysteineHomocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine have been associated with narrowing and hardening of the arteries, an increased… level to find out your ideal level of B vitamins. Smoking definitely raises it.
- Balance Your Blood Sugar to Gain Energy and Reduce Cravings (Chapter 11) – your blood sugar balance will be out, so read up on how to eat to keep your blood sugar in check. This will prevent rebound overeating.
- Repair Your Brain with Antioxidants (Chapter 12) – you’ll need to up your antioxidants to undo the damage from smoking.
- Find New Pleasure in Life by Raising Endorphins (Chapter 16) – exercise really helps to get your lungs back to shape, but start gently.
What to expect 30 days later
It takes, on average, about 30 days to recover and normalise your brain’s chemistry and blood sugar balance. Of course, this depends greatly on whether nicotine is your only vice. If you’ve been using a variety of addictive substances for years, our advice would be to stick to this kind of recovery programme for at least 90 days.
Otherwise, provided your Scale of Abstinence Symptoms Severity score has dropped by two-thirds (see Chart Your Progress on page 26), stop the Stimulant Prescription (see pg403), but keep taking the basic supplement pack.
By now you’ll know the effects of the other temporary supplements – niacin, chromium and 5-HTP. Reduce or stop these according to your need.
For more information read How to Quit Without Feeling S**T.
The advice given here is not a substitute for the advice of your doctor or other suitably qualified person. For any serious addiction it is vital that you do have professional support. The recommendations given here help to ensure you are optimally nourished after stopping an addictive substance which may have had a negative influence on your nutritional status.
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