Smokeless tobacco has been around for centuries, and it was used by certain American Indian people long before Europeans discovered it. Chewing tobacco became popular in the 1800s and replaced pipe tobacco for many.
This type of smokeless tobacco was extremely popular with the early pioneers as they could enjoy it on the move while keeping their hands free. In fact, it was so popular that out of 348 tobacco factories included in an 1869 census, 335 concentrated solely on chewing tobacco.
In more modern times it was common to see popular baseball players using chewing tobacco, and it was deemed a safer alternative to smoking. However, one can of dip contains the equivalent of about 80 cigarettes when it comes to the nicotine content. This makes dip and chew just as addictive as regular cigarettes, making them hard to give up for many people.
If you are looking to stop the habit then one area you need to consider is your food intake. Some food can make giving up a nicotine addiction harder, and some can make it easier. There are also trigger points to watch out for. Carry on reading to get some advice on improving your chances of giving up dip or chew, and eating healthily at the same time.
Is smokeless tobacco really that bad?
Although tobacco companies have in the past tried to project a better image onto smokeless tobacco than they do cigarettes, the truth is it is just as bad.
Nicotine is highly addictive and it can take a lot of effort and willpower to give it up. When it comes to smoking, it is said that the average smoker may have to try up to 30 times before they successfully kick the habit. Dip is just as addictive as smoking, and chewing tobacco can often lead someone to start smoking too due to the nicotine.
Then there are the harmful chemicals. Because there is no smoke involved with chewing tobacco, it can appear to some that it is a safer alternative. This is far from the truth. According to the American Cancer Society, there are 25 chemicals in smokeless tobacco that are known to cause cancer.
These chemicals include arsenic, lead, mercury, and such delights as polonium-210 which is radioactive. Together these chemicals can lead to leukoplakia and oral cancer.
What are the health implications of dip and chew?
There has been widespread awareness of the dangers of smoking tobacco for decades. Indeed, German scientists discovered a link between cancer and smoking as far back as the 1920s.
Smokeless tobacco on the other hand was deemed to be safe, and it wasn’t until 1981 that the links between oral cancer and chewing tobacco were discovered. By this point, millions of people were already addicted to smokeless tobacco products.
If you are unaware of the health implications and want a push to help you give up, then consider the following problems.
- Bad breath
- Gum disease
- Heart disease
- Tooth decay and loss
- Pancreatic cancer
- Stained teeth
And that is just a few of the health problems facing a regular user of dip and chew. Now, how about looking at how you should eat when giving up nicotine.
Eating properly when you are quitting tobacco
It is very important to consider your nutrition when you are quitting smokeless tobacco. Ask an ex-smoker about when they gave up, and they may well tell you that they put on weight. This is because there is a tendency to swap one habit for another, and in this case, it is often snacking.
When you give up dip or chew, you will find that food starts to taste a lot better. This is great, you are already starting to reap the benefits of quitting. The problem is that many people who are quitting nicotine start to over-eat.
One of the reasons that people snack and eat too much while in the midst of quitting is due to cravings. Many people start to get cravings for sugary food which contains a lot of calories. Other people mistake the nicotine cravings for hunger pangs and end up eating more than they need to. Some people simply eat more because they are trying to fill the void left from their regular habit.
So, how can you eat better while you are quitting, which foods to avoid, and which ones can help you?
Turn your cooking into a hobby
One thing that you need when giving up any form of addiction is a distraction. Many people find that an activity or hobby can help take their minds off of their nicotine cravings.
One way to make sure you are eating well and being distracted is to take more interest in the food you are cooking. Not a good cook? No problem. For those that aren’t confident in the kitchen or are just starting out, there are a couple of appliances that could help.
Air fryers and multi-cookers, such as the Instant Pot, have become very popular across the states over the last decade. Both of these gadgets can help you to cook dishes easily and healthily. The air fryer lets you cook food that appears fried but uses no oil so it is a great way to make ‘bad’ food good.
The Instant Pot has lots of settings and can be used to slow cook, air fryer (with an attachment), and pressure cook. There are plenty of recipes online and there are also lots of comparison articles for air fryers and Instant Pots such as the one at Corrie Cooks.
Things that you should avoid when quitting
For smokers, there are always trigger points. This could be the cigarette they enjoy after a meal. Common trigger points are often coffee and alcohol.
With smokeless tobacco, there can often be situations that need to be avoided. Stay away from situations or venues that you associate with dipping. Avoid friends who dip and chew for the initial part of quitting. Abstain from alcoholic drinks for a while too.
Foods that can help
You may have an increased appetite or hunger during the time that you are quitting. This can be managed with healthy snacks that will also help your nicotine cravings.
Smokers may use foods that resemble cigarettes such as carrot sticks and the like. This helps to get over the habit of holding a cigarette in their hand or mouth. Similarly, anyone giving up smokeless tobacco can try some healthy snacks to combat the habit of chewing.
Popcorn, seeds, nuts, pretzels, and sugar-free gum, are all good options as they have less fat and calories than other snacks. Gum may be a good option for the times that you would normally be chewing, avoid sugary options if you can.
Although you want to avoid piling on the pounds, don’t be too strict with yourself. It is far better to give in to the craving for Ben & Jerry’s than to crack and start dipping.
Smokeless tobacco is harmful to your health and doesn’t do anything for your bank balance either. Quitting is difficult but by avoiding trigger points, and having some handy snacks to hand means that you can fight the cravings.
Using a handy appliance can mean that you aren’t just eating healthily, but you are distracting yourself with a new hobby, and you can make delicious food for your friends and family too.