I've given up smoking but I am afraid that I might begin again. Will it put me back to square one if I start again?

Try to avoid the urge but, if you do slip, don't despair: you can get back the ground you've lost, but you must act quickly. It is not a crime, you are not a failure, and you must not feel guilty. Look for the reason: were you tense or stressed? Were you upset or angry? Were you in a situation that you automatically associated with smoking? Then take action to avoid it happening again.

I have heard that meditation can help people to stop smoking. Do you think it works and is it worth the effort?

A lot of people benefit from learning to relax and meditate. It is particularly useful in times of stress. Relaxation tapes are available and can be helpful, as can relaxing music.

A friend of mine went to an acupuncturist to help her stop smoking and she has not smoked now for some months. I have also read that hypnosis can help. Do you think that any of these methods is any good?

There is no trial (research) evidence that acupuncture or hypnosis is effective in helping people stop smoking. However, if you are struggling, it may be worth trying either or both as they are popular with smokers and people can be helped by unproven methods. Make sure that you go to registered practitioners and keep an open mind. Always enquire about the cost before treatment begins.

I don't do much exercise. Would exercise help me to give up smoking?

Exercise is very helpful. It not only improves your overall physical condition, but it is also a great way of relieving stress and improving your mood. It takes your mind off cigarettes as well as helping to control your appetite and weight. Before you exercise, practice deep breathing and repeat this as you cool down afterwards. Dynamic exercise is best and this includes walking as briskly as possible, cycling, swimming and playing tennis or golf (see Chapter 10).

I know people who have given up smoking, but then put on weight. How can I avoid this?

People who smoke are on average 3-4 kg (7-8 lb) lighter than non-smokers. It is, however, the wrong way to stay slim. When you stop it doesn't automatically mean your weight will go up, but gaining 1 kg (2-3 lb) is not as important as quitting cigarettes.

Weight is gained when you eat more than you burn up. The trick is to watch what you eat and take up regular exercise. You need to plan positively not to let it happen.

Eat fresh fruit and vegetables; avoid cakes, chocolate and biscuits; use wholegrain cereals, porridge without sugar, pasta and bread; and drink plenty of water or low calorie drinks. You will not control your weight unless you match your intake with regular exercise - you must do both (see Chapters 9 and 10). Think of it as a lifestyle change, not a 'diet'.

It is not a good idea to stop smoking just as you go on holiday, as there will be a temptation to overeat anyway. Weigh yourself no more than once a week, at the same time of day and in the same or no clothing, to monitor your progress. Try not to become obsessed by weight. Do not start to smoke if your weight goes up; watch what you are eating and take plenty of exercise.

I've not yet tried quitting as I am frankly unable to cope with going 'cold turkey'. What can I expect as withdrawal symptoms when I stop smoking?

There is often a worsening of the smoker's cough until all the rubbish is out of your lungs. You may feel thirsty, in which case drink water and avoid caffeinated drinks and excess alcohol. Some people become constipated and hungry, and this is helped by fresh fruit and a high fibre diet (see Chapter 9). Some people become anxious, irritable and have difficulty concentrating - these feelings may last up to 4 weeks but are worse in the first 2 weeks. Drink plenty of water and take regular exercise; try to fill your time with positive activities (see the question above).

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