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Want to Quit Smoking? Try Fruits & Veggies

Want to Quit Smoking? Try Fruits & Veggies

Later today I am scheduled to give a talk to a class of 3rd graders about the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. Thankfully, to my knowledge, none of these kids smoke cigarettes (yet). However, if they did, I would further promote the virtues of eating fresh fruits and vegetables as, not just a way to remain healthy, but also as an aid to help those struggling to quit smoking.

I recently wrote about the research that indicated when children drink more water they naturally choose healthier snacks, like fruits and vegetables. Now comes news from researchers at the University of Buffalo that if you are trying to break the habit of smoking, consuming more fruits and vegetables may help you quit, and stay quit for longer. The University of Buffalo study found that smokers surveyed (1,000 participants ages 25 and older) who consumed the most fruit and vegetables were three times more likely to be tobacco-free for at least 30 days at follow-up 14 months later than those consuming the lowest amount of fruits and vegetables. These findings persisted even when adjustments were made to take into account age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, household income and health orientation. Interestingly enough, the research also indicated that the smokers with the greatest fruit and vegetable consumption smoked fewer cigarettes per day, waited longer to smoke their first cigarette of the day and generally scored lower on a common test of nicotine dependence. Why? Well that is up for debate. Some think that the more fiber in your diet lessens the urge for nicotine (the key addictive component in tobacco) and makes you feel more full and less in need of a cigarette. Others think that fruits and vegetables just make cigarettes taste less appealing, whereas things like beer and junk food make cigarettes actually taste kind of good, to some at least.

Whatever the reason, and whether or not the research holds up, there is little need to not heed this advice. If you are a smoker, wanting to quit, there are a lot of worse things you could do to yourself than eat a bunch of fruits and veggies.

What have you done to quit smoking? What has worked for you? Have you noticed that certain foods and/or drink make you more likely to crave a cigarette? Do you think fresh fruits and vegetables could actually sway someone away from smoking?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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7:14AM PDT on Apr 21, 2015

My brother smoked 2 packs a day. He quit smoking. It isn't easy but he succeeded at the end of story. If you want you can read his blog about how he quit smoking at

3:22AM PDT on Jun 19, 2014

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12:18AM PDT on May 28, 2013

I truly get pleasure from while I read your blogs and its content.

1:34PM PDT on Apr 18, 2013


2:05AM PDT on Apr 5, 2013

Thanks for this article.

12:42PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

But, if you are diabetic ....... check with your doctor WHICH fruits and vegetables are okay for you to increase, before you go to town on the ones which have TOO much sugar content (even "natural" sugar, in excess, will raise your glucose levels). Don't worry - just ask to be sure !

12:19PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

good to know

8:12AM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

8:23AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Intriguing, if further and more extensive studies show this to be true, then perhaps vending machines with fruit in schools would be a great idea.

Organic fruits free of sprayed toxins/pesticides that is as there are already tons of toxins in cigarettes.

My brother who smoked many years had given up smoking cold turkey, it can be done while others need a lot of trial and error before finally giving up the choking tobacco!

7:43AM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

Quitting smoking is similar to attaining anything significant that you want, and that might be difficult to obtain. I used self-talk; telling myself repeatedly that I could do it. I sucked on peppermint lifesavers when the need overpowered. I quit coffee. In the process of moving, I used that time to quit so that ALL my daily patterns would be disrupted. Give it a try on will power and you might surprise yourself!
And good luck to Lisa S. It can be done. Believe in yourself.

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