Om nom nom?
April 28, 2010 1:59 AM   Subscribe

What healthy snacks can I feed to my giving-up-smoking sweetie to keep his hands busy and his mind off cigarettes?

He's a little worried about putting on weight (I think he looks delightful, but then again I am biased), but having something to fidget with and eat seems to help him in the evenings when he gets the worst cravings.

As someone who I have seen eat a kilo of peanuts in one sitting, I think maybe low fat foods that he can eat a lot of would be better than advising moderation. I have read this question and this question, which both had some great suggestions, but I'm not really worried about protein or salt content. What I'm really looking for is something he can munch on when we're having a couple of drinks with friends at home, or watching the news of an evening.

My one thought so far has been raw veggies with dip - any suggestions for what veggies and what dip would be awesome. He loves salty and savoury things, and is a fan of garlic, chilli and strong cheeses (so basically anything) - and we're vegetarians. So, MeFites, what deliciousness do you recommend?
posted by teraspawn to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This question about chips and dip is totally ace, too.
posted by teraspawn at 2:12 AM on April 28, 2010

Water. On the basis that a lot of time people think they're hungry when they're thirsty, suggest having at least a glass of water before snacking.

Carrot sticks work well. Celery and salt. Wasabi peas. If you're looking for healthy snacks ideas, graze is a good company to take inspiration from. In fact, seeing as you are in the UK and if you can bear the cost, graze might be a good option full stop.

Disclosure: Mrs MM signed herself and me up for this. I think it is a little costly, but the snacks are first rate.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:15 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sunflower seeds are a lifesaver for my dad, who has cycled through all sorts of things over the decades of his post-smoking life. You can get them in a variety of flavors, or make your own. Also in the same vein are pumpkin seeds and nuts still in their shells. Basically, anything that you have to crack open to eat is great.

As for dips, my favorite dip as of late is sour cream, cilantro, lime juice + a little zest, minced garlic, grated ginger, and some S&P. It's sort of refreshing and clean on the tongue, and goes with every vegetable I've tried so far. Just stick everything in a food processor and blend it up, and then fold the sour cream in to your liking. I'm sure low fat would be just fine.
posted by Mizu at 2:21 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

MuffinMan: we're not so worried about the constant snacking. It's good having him put something in his mouth that won't contribute to an early, painful death.

Wasabi peas sound great, though! And I'd forgotten about sunflower seeds - he loves them, too.
posted by teraspawn at 2:51 AM on April 28, 2010

Ex-smoker for 18 months (minus two slip-ups).

I liked extremely fiery salsa -- a big jug of the standard supermarket stuff, mixed with some habanero sauce, as dip for salt-free chips. It produces all kinds of distracting physical effects and is pretty tasty.

In general, though, I found that my worries about gaining weight (I had them too) were really a kind of excuse not to quit. I had a series of excellent excuses, including that it would negatively affect my memory, my mood, my rebellious attitude, whatever. In the end result, none of those things (even if they were true, which they weren't -- I personally didn't gain any weight) are worth resuming smoking over. You may want to gently remind him that the worst kind of weight to gain is tumor weight. Or actually, that's really harsh. Maybe that people with reduced lung capacity exercise much less than the rest of the world, and put on lots of weight eventually anyway.

Water is good, too -- without knowing it, I'd been using cigarettes to cover for all kinds of little stressors -- thirst, fatigue, hunger, boredom, restlessness. I tried to interpret cigarette cravings as some other kind of need, and fulfill the other need, which wasn't always food.
posted by Valet at 3:08 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Be careful of wasabi peas - they are usually high in calories!

Water is good and sugar free mints.
posted by gomichild at 4:03 AM on April 28, 2010

The obvious is something like sliced bell peppers, radishes and such.

But try this: Cinnamon Toothpicks. Pick up cinnamon oil (most drugstores have it), dip the toothpicks, let dry. The hotness of the oil provides a nice distracting "buzz" that can ease you over the bump of a momentary nicotine jones. Seriously.
posted by RavinDave at 4:06 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Chewing gum . MY fiances mother gave up smoking and said chewing gum was her savior. Keeps the mouth busy
posted by majortom1981 at 4:34 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Though perhaps not healthy, ice cream has saved my life in this situation.
posted by krilli at 4:55 AM on April 28, 2010

pomegranates, seed-filled grapes, shrimp-flavored puffy chips (asian, delicious), pumpkin seeds
posted by acidic at 5:11 AM on April 28, 2010

Ex-smoker here. These toothpicks were a lifesaver for keeping my mouth busy on long car rides (when I used to do most of my smoking).

I recall a little bit of gum bleeding when I'd use them, either from the tea tree oil or from abrasion / splintering from the toothpick itself, but I always figured that was worth quitting.
posted by gauche at 5:26 AM on April 28, 2010

Seconding gum. It kept me sane-ish when quitting.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 5:47 AM on April 28, 2010

I'd go with pumpkins seeds or sunflower seeds, pork rinds or crunchy veggies with spicy dips or hummus. Crunchy things with strong flavors can be helpful. Things with shells or that require unwrapping can help keep his hands busy.

If someone had suggested I just have some water while I was trying to quit smoking, I'd smack them with my last empty pack.
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:18 AM on April 28, 2010

I make refrigerator-pickled carrots according to this recipe all the time. I've left them in the fridge for weeks and they've been fine. I use whatever vinegar I've got on hand.

I don't bother pickling the tomatoes in with the carrots, I don't think they work quite as well for this.

Sometimes I do use this classic bay/allspice combo, but I also use these pickles as an excuse to use up the last of something in the spice drawer and/or get rid of past-it's-prime garlic, ginger, or lemongrass. I've not made a bad batch yet. I get a lot of "huh, I don't like carrots or pickled things but yes, I would like another OH NOM NOM NOM."
posted by desuetude at 6:29 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

baby carrots.
posted by H. Roark at 6:35 AM on April 28, 2010

Edamame. You can go crazy thinking up great spicy or salty or savoury dipping sauces for it - with garlic or chili or soy sauce or wasabi or ginger or kosher salt....
posted by meerkatty at 6:42 AM on April 28, 2010

Cinnamon Toothpicks (or mint if you don't like cinnamon). I like the Thursday Plantation brand, comes in a little plastic container of 100 for like $2.50. Good for your teeth, taste good, and last a long time. I get them at The Home Economist, but any store that sells herbal remedies should have them, look near the checkout lanes. My dad told me people would use them to quit smoking 'back in his day'.
posted by token-ring at 6:51 AM on April 28, 2010

I probably shouldn't post in this, seeing as how I'm still smoking, but one of my more successful quits revolved around cinnamon sticks. I just pretended to smoke them like cigarettes (my kids thought it was hilarious) and kept one in my mouth most of the time. When I wasn't holding it like a cigarette, I was chewing on it. Next time I quit I'm totally going back to them.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:09 AM on April 28, 2010

ex smoker for 7 years here. I nth the toothpick recommendation. Gives you something to keep in your mouth and alternately fiddle with in your hands, which scratches a lot of the same ritualistic itches that smoking ingrains into your psyche. If you can add some sort of chemical "buzz" or spice, all the better.

But you asked about healthy foods. I can't help there. For me, cheesesteaks and root beer got me through.
posted by reverend cuttle at 7:17 AM on April 28, 2010

Negative calorie foods are those which (ostensibly) require more calories to digest than they include.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:31 AM on April 28, 2010

That negative calorie stuff is fake. An onion, for example, is loaded with sugar (9.34g carbohydrates per 100g according to Wikipedia).
posted by k. at 7:47 AM on April 28, 2010

Non-food items! Get him a pack of cards and a book on learning casino-level shuffling skills and/or card tricks. It's a skill that's fun to learn and he'll enjoy showing off his tricks at the bar the next night out with his buds.

A slightly less manly trick that I've suggested before but really worked for me was blowing bubbles. If he typically went out on the steps after dinner for a smoke, have him go out with some bubbles and blow bubbles. I found the hand/mouth action as well as the mind centering focused on creating really big bubbles, bubbles within bubbles etc. was really calming. Go out with him and have a contest for who can stick the most bubbles together. Honestly, I only did it a couple times but I found the concept interesting enough that it helped me wrap my mind around what it was I was craving (a break) and how something rather goofy and zen was actually just as helpful if not more so.
posted by amanda at 7:53 AM on April 28, 2010

Hi guys, thank you so much for all the advice, but I'm really mostly after food suggestions!

And k. has it on the negative calorie stuff. Although of course celery etc. are still good healthy snacks.
posted by teraspawn at 7:55 AM on April 28, 2010

I came here to suggest edamame and sunflower seeds; those are classic. Get a lot of little savory foods such as Pretz, rice crackers and shrimp chips from a Japanese market. They have more flavor and less fat than a lot of other snacks, and they come in single-serving packs. Also, pretzel sticks and beef jerky. Some people have a lot of success with sweet things like raisins and Life Savers but watch that if you don't want dental problems. But Popsicles and such are good for the hand-mouth satisfaction. Keep a sliced orange in the fridge and eat a slice (with peel if you want) when you get a craving for a smoke. Also tea, hot or iced. Some herbal mixes (Yogi brand, etc) taste good and you can also get some with calming properties. Plus lots of liquids at least feel like they are speeding the toxins out of your body. I've been drinking a lot of iced herbal teas with a dash of Angostura bitters in a nice wine glass. It gives you the sense of a calming luxurious ritual.

As a long term ex-smoker, I suggest not getting too hung up on weight gain. If you are a heavy smoker, nicotine is driving your metabolism and you will see your weight jump up according to the scale even if you are pretty careful with your diet. Once you are free of the drug, things will balance out. Too many people I know went back to smoking because of a ten-pound weight gain that was probably temporary.
posted by BibiRose at 9:06 AM on April 28, 2010

Toothpicks were my surrogate, back when I quit smoking tobacco. Park 'em in my face, chew 'em up, then dispose in ashtray. (I saved up a bunch of those chewed-up picks after a few months, and had a ceremonial burning of them, on the beach.) But please, don't encourage gum-chewing -- I'd rather you continued smoking, than take up that far-more-disgusting habit.
posted by Rash at 9:11 AM on April 28, 2010

Beef jerky is a good one- takes a bit to tear through a piece, and you can get all sorts of exotic flavors (hickory, cajun, teriyaki) and exotic meats (buffalo, venison, elk) to stay interesting.

I'd also second edamame, which is great for snacking. Honestly, though, if he's like me and craves salty and crunchy, pretzels really aren't that bad when compared to chips and cheese doodles and all that. Paired with a homemade, low-fat spinach dip or something, delicious!

I also like to mindlessly snack on frozen grapes. Mmmm.
posted by rachaelfaith at 11:29 AM on April 28, 2010

popcorn! a bag of butter popcorn is only 160 calories and takes a while to eat, and usually requires drinking something in between bites because it's salty, so that makes it last a whole evening. You can pop your own for flavor variety and to avoid all the fake butter chemicals.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 3:41 PM on April 28, 2010

Thanks to everyone who read the question and answered it! We're in for some delicious snacking. :)
posted by teraspawn at 12:29 AM on April 29, 2010

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