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.

Black pepper, a food that may help nicotine cravings. -1Share on Pinterest
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A small 2013 study found that aromatherapy using black pepper essential oil may help with tobacco withdrawal.

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 older research, inhaling black pepper essential oil vapor significantly reduced cigarette and nicotine cravings compared with a control group as well.

Black pepper might have mood-enhancing properties by reducing oxidative stress in part of the brain relating to emotions. This may help to reduce anxiety relating to withdrawal.

Black pepper may also have antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory effects.

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.

Smoking cigarettes also reduces the body’s absorption of calcium and vitamin D while increasing the body’s need for vitamin C. Eating fruits and vegetables can help the body absorb these nutrients.

The National Cancer Institute also recommends a person to distract themselves and keep their hands busy by nibbling on healthy foods. These can include carrot or celery sticks, grapes, nuts, or berries.

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 include:

  • 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:

  • visiting Nicotine Anonymous
  • calling 800-QUIT NOW
  • calling the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345
  • calling the National Cancer Institute Quitline at 877-44U-QUIT
  • visiting for resources and support in managing cravings and quitting

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 help relieve cravings and increase the chances of quitting. These may include patches, lozenges, sprays, or gums.

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?

People may find cinnamon sticks a helpful replacement to replicate the hand-to-mouth action of 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.