Have we been missing the boat when it comes to quitting smoking? According to Ashley Koff, RD, celebrity dietitian and Natural Vitality Living’s nutrition editor, the answer is yes. “I’ve learned in the smoking-cessation-expert community, as well as from my own patients, that many issues have not been addressed,” she says.
Nicotine withdrawal brings about myriad physiological changes in the body that can result in low energy, mood swings and digestion issues. Taking a more holistic approach to quitting smoking, with an emphasis on nutrition, can make the very difficult process of quitting more manageable, according to Koff. “When the body goes through nicotine withdrawal, you can feel awful; better nutrition can address many of these issues and help people be successful.”
For example, when you’re feeling anxious or low energy, it’s easy to reach for poor food choices like sugary refined carbs or fast food. This in turn makes you feel worse and all the more susceptible to grabbing that smoke. If you arm yourself with the proper tools to address these physiological changes, your chances for quitting successfully increase, Koff says.
To help quitters stay the course, Koff created the AKA (Ashley Koff Approved) Quit Kit. Each item inside is designed to help quitters manage the common challenges of giving up cigarettes.
For energy lows, the box has trail mix and hemp hearts to provide protein for a quick but lasting pick-me-up. Koff even includes a lollipop, which she says is okay occasionally as long as you follow it with a high-protein snack to avoid a sugar low.
To address anxiety, the hallmark of quitting smoking, the kit contains Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm magnesium supplement, cacao nibs and herbal teas. “I wouldn’t have created the AKA Quit Kit without Natural Calm and cacao nibs (cacao is a food rich in magnesium), because this mineral is so critical to success with quitting. Magnesium relaxes us cell by cell (great for those quitting anxious moments), and it helps to keep the digestive tract moving (which is something nicotine has been used for by many). Fiber-rich snacks and digestive enzymes included also promote healthy digestion.”
A tube of natural toothpaste in the kit encourages quitters to get up and brush their teeth when a cigarette craving comes on. It offers people something to occupy their hands and mouth and gives them fresh breath, a nice change from smokers’ breath, points out Koff.
The kit also comes with a booklet that helps people understand this approach to quitting and explains via easy nutrition tips how to avoid weight gain while giving up smoking.
Quitting smoking is incredibly difficult and stressful. Koff’s approach with an emphasis on good nutrition makes sense: if you take care of yourself while quitting, you will feel better physically and mentally, giving yourself the strength to stay the course.