Foods that Kill Nicotine Cravings 

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Working at home
If you or someone you care about has ever tried to quit smoking, you know just how hard it can be. Some people battle cravings for nicotine – the chemical compound found in tobacco – that can seem overwhelming at times. They might feel jittery, anxious or have a whole list of other physical and mental health issues. But there are things that can help take the edge off. Food is one of those. There are certain foods that have been shown to help kill those nicotine cravings. Let’s look at how that works.
First, if you or someone you know has tried to ditch nicotine in the past, you’re in good company. According to federal statistics, there are nearly 23 million adults who smoke in the United States, and nearly 70% of those surveyed have said they would like to quit smoking. A survey reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than half of adult smokers polled said they had tried at least once to quit smoking in the previous year. But fewer than 1 in 10 adult smokers actually succeed at leaving nicotine behind.

Don’t quit on quitting

If you’ve tried and failed to quit smoking, it’s important to try again. Your quality of life probably depends on it. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. It impacts nearly every organ in a person’s body, lowering quality of life and serving as the root cause for several diseases. It’s responsible for one in every five deaths – totaling more than 480,000 people each year, according to the CDC. Still not convinced it’s a health hazard? Here are some quick facts:
  • Smoking is responsible for more deaths each year than illegal drug use, alcohol use, vehicle accidents and firearm-related incidents combined.
  • Smoking causes 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths.
  • The risk of death for U.S. smokers has increased in the last 50 years.

Foods that kill cravings

There are over-the-counter and other medications that can help people as they work to quit smoking. Most of these are centered around weaning people off nicotine and curbing the cravings. Interestingly, some foods can also play a role in killing nicotine cravings. So much of smoking has to do with motions that keep your hands and mouth busy. In that way, some types of foods mimic that action enough to help quell the urge to smoke.
The American Cancer Society suggests keeping tabs on your cravings – and using some foods as substitutes. These include:
  • Carrot sticks
  • Crunchy pickles
  • Celery
  • Raisins
  • Apples
  • Hard candy
  • Sugar-free gum
Eating crunchy, hard or chewy foods that require a lot of mouth and jaw work to break down can help some people kill their nicotine cravings. This may require some planning ahead, especially if you’re traveling or heading to work. Spending some time on snack prep by peeling and slicing carrots and washing celery sticks, or just making sure you have gum handy, can help you keep a handle on cravings and stay on track to quit nicotine.
Photo credit: Getty Images

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
No Personal Healthcare Advice or Other Advice
This Web site provides general educational information on health-related issues and provides access to health-related resources for the convenience of our users. This site and its health-related information and resources are not a substitute for professional medical advice or for the care that patients receive from their physicians or other health care providers.
This site and its health-related information resources are not meant to be the practice of medicine, the practice of nursing, or to carry out any professional health care advice or service in the state where you live. Nothing in this Web site is to be used for medical or nursing diagnosis or professional treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed health care provider. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding a health condition. You should not disregard medical advice, or delay seeking medical advice, because of something you read in this site.