Some foods may help reduce nicotine cravings. Others may help people break the habit of smoking cigarettes by making cigarettes taste unpleasant or by replacing the hand-to-mouth action of smoking.
Certain foods may have a positive effect on tobacco and nicotine withdrawal, which may help people quit smoking.
This article looks at particular foods that may support people quitting smoking as well as other tips for managing cravings.
Whenever study participants craved nicotine, they put one drop of black pepper essential oil on a tissue and inhaled the fumes for 2 minutes. They reported this reduced their nicotine cravings.
According to a 2007 research survey, smokers reported that certain foods and drinks worsen the taste of cigarettes.
Some of the most commonly reported substances were fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Noncaffeinated drinks may also worsen the taste of cigarettes.
Making the taste of cigarettes more unpleasant may help deter people and support them in quitting.
Some people have recommended ginseng or ginseng tea as an aid for quitting nicotine, but there is not much evidence to support its effectiveness.
A 2022 animal study did find that Korean red ginseng extract helped block drug-induced addictive behaviors in rodents.
This may be because a component in ginseng called saponins may help prevent dopamine release from nicotine. This may help block the reward cycle and addiction that nicotine can cause.
However, these methods have yet to be tested on nicotine withdrawal in humans. Human research is needed to understand ginseng’s effect on nicotine addiction.
Other tips for managing nicotine withdrawal and avoiding smoking
- keeping chewing gum, mints, or hard candy on hand to have instead when craving a cigarette
- avoiding alcohol and caffeine, as they may increase cravings, and opting for water, fruit juice, or sports drinks instead
- trying sticks of carrot or celery, sugar-free lollipops, a toothpick, straw, or cinnamon stick if people want to hold something in their hand or have something in their mouth
- brushing the teeth when getting a craving, which may provide a distraction and a minty, fresh taste
- eating smaller meals throughout the day, rather than one to two large meals, to help balance blood sugar and reduce cravings
- avoiding sugary or spicy foods, as these may trigger cravings
- keeping healthy alternatives on hand when getting a craving, such as apples, carrots, raisins, nuts, or vegetable sticks
- getting regular exercise, which can help lift mood and reduce stress
- finding smoke-free places to spend time in with people who do not smoke
People can also find support through many organizations and helplines, such as:
This section answers some frequently asked questions about foods to manage nicotine cravings.
How do you get rid of nicotine cravings fast?
People may find that nicotine replacement products
Cravings typically pass within a few minutes. Practicing delaying acting on the craving for at least 5 minutes may help the craving pass.
Distraction may help people resist a craving, such as:
- drinking water or a noncaffeinated, nonalcoholic drink
- chewing on sugar-free gum, a healthy snack, or brushing the teeth
- doodling, squeezing a stress ball, or flipping a coin to keep the hands busy
- doing a short burst of physical activity
- taking some long, deep breaths
- talking with a supportive friend or family member
- keeping visual reminders or notes to help people stick to their goal, such as photos of loved ones or a reminder of the health benefits
Why does cinnamon help you quit smoking?
In addition, anecdotal reports suggest the strong smell and taste of cinnamon may help people resist the urge to smoke.
What are the hardest days of quitting nicotine?
People may experience the most severe withdrawal symptoms within the first few days or couple of weeks after quitting. After this time, it will get easier.
During the first few days after quitting, people may want to make sure they have strategies and supports already set in place to help them get through any cravings and stick to their goals.
Certain foods may help reduce nicotine cravings, either by directly affecting mechanisms in the body, by providing a distraction, or by stimulating a similar hand-to-mouth action of smoking.
People may also find it helpful to avoid certain foods and drinks, such as spicy and sugary foods, alcohol, caffeine, or any substances that trigger cravings.