In this step you will develop a plan for how you are going to replace smoking. It has been said that you don’t break habits, you replace them and in the case of giving up cigarettes coming up with a replacement plan is an excellent short-term tool for successfully making the transition to becoming a non-smoker. When you give up a habit, especially one that can be as time consuming as smoking, you leave a hole. You need to fill up, hopefully with mostly healthy things, but it could also just be enjoyable things that you look forward to, the same way you likely look forward to having a cigarette at certain times during the day.
In my case, I focused my replacements on times when I ALWAYS had a cigarette and knew it would feel like something was missing when I gave them up. Like with my morning coffee, after a meal or when having drinks with friends. I also turned to cigarettes as a coping mechanism when stressed and as a reward after completing a time-consuming chore or task. Most of these times I simply replaced a cigarette with food. With my morning coffee I had toast, when having drinks with friends I ate pretzels, following doing a chore or completing a task I would have a cup of tea and a cookie or other treat. I chose sweet or salty snacks deliberately because I had read that eating sweet or salty foods triggered the same reward chemical response in the body as smoking a cigarette does. I confess that I did gain weight, I expected that would happen and I didn’t care. I knew that in time my eating habits would revert back to normal and they did. I decided that I was just going to pamper myself and do whatever felt good. I do also have to confess that I am one of those people who has never struggled with my weight, those of you who do this might not be the best option, especially if you are going to get stressed about gaining some weight. I also believe that smoking can be a bit of an appetite suppressant for some folks and if that is true for you then you might find yourself feeling hungrier than usual. There are plenty of low fat foods that could work for you if you decide to go that route. I’m not pushing food as the ultimate substitute for smoking, I’m just telling you what I did and why I did it.
I made a conscious choice of how I was going to handle this. My philosophy was that giving up smoking was important and I was just going to eat whatever I wanted and indulge myself during this time because the weight gain was less important to me than becoming a non-smoker. Each person should pick what they feel is best for them. The main purpose of this step is to come up with a replacement for smoking, whether it is food, exercise (which my the way also causes a release of feel-good chemicals in the body), phone a friend, reading, gardening. Anything that you enjoy and consider a good replacement option for those habitual cigarettes.
Once you have decided what you are going to use as a cigarette replacement you can prepare for your become a non-smoker day. Remember to keep repeating your reasons for becoming a non-smoker, over and over, while you are smoking.