The ultimate goal of any serious athlete who smokes is to quit. (The YOU Docs break down why athletes should quit smoking.) Surprisingly, what you choose to put in your mouth in place of nicotine-delivery products like cigarettes or chew actually has a huge effect on how successful you’ll be.
When you’re trying to quit, crunchy foods tend to be more satisfying. Focus on fuel that provides exercise for your jaw muscles, such as carrots, celery, apples, red pepper sticks, nuts and plain popcorn.
Another key is to avoid foods that make cigarettes taste good. Instead, fill your gym bag with options that make smoking disgusting. A 2007 study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, which surveyed smokers on their food preferences in relation to their smoking habits, found that red meat and alcohol make cigarettes taste good, whereas dairy products, fruits and vegetables make them taste awful. So when you’re craving a smoke, try some string cheese, yogurt or a glass of milk. Stay away from meat and alcohol. They not only encourage your smoking habit, they hurt your performance on the field. Dairy, fruits and veggies, on the other hand, will help you get stronger and leaner.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, is a Wellness Manager and Nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, Department of Disease Reversal, where she oversees the nutrition component of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180 program. Kirkpatrick presents nationally on a variety of nutrition and wellness-related topics; is a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show; and also writes for The Huffington Post, DrOz.com and 360-5.com.