Does More Kale = Less Cigs?

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

We all know that smoking is bad for you and eating your veggies is well, good for you. But can consuming more fruits and vegetables actually help you quit smoking? Research suggests that former smokers consume more produce compared to current smokers and smokers in general tend to miss the mark in getting enough vegetables in their daily diets.

A study published in 2012 found that smokers from France and Northern Ireland increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables before they quit smoking. After taking many factors into account, eating more produce was associated with a 60% greater chance of quitting smoking. However when additional factors were controlled for, like smoking intensity, alcohol intake and exercise, the association was no longer observed.

In the US, researchers found that loading up on plenty of plants can also help to increase the odds of staying smoke-free after quitting. In fact, the sub-group within the 1,000 participants who ate the most fruits and veggies were three times more likely to still be smoke-free one month after quitting compared to the sub-group who ate the least amount.

While some people think green juice tastes icky, eating more vegetables and fruits might just do the trick in shifting taste so that the cigarette you usually crave now tastes terrible. According to a 2007 study out of Duke University, smokers reported that foods and beverages like fruits, vegetables, water and milk made non-menthol cigarettes taste worse while meats, alcohol and coffee actually made them taste better. This further builds that case that trying to boost your intake of produce might help set the stage to make quitting smoking a little easier.

Have you found that participating in a Reboot or eating and drinking more fruits and veggies has helped you quit smoking? We would love to hear from you!

We heard from one Rebooter who found success with quitting smoking after changing his eating habits. Read his story:

My Juicing Story 

I have never been excessively overweight or ill.  After seeing Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead was convinced that this was something that I could easily do that would improve the way I felt. This was on January 10th, 2012.

The next day I had my partner of eleven years watch the film. He has always had a weight issue. Not huge but thirty pounds. He too was convinced.

The next day, I got out my old centrifugal juicer and began juicing daily to supplement our diets. I never believed in any “diet” fads (my dad the surgeon said “diet is the way you eat and should be a fixed way”). We didn’t eat poorly either. Joe just had a hard time dropping weight even with exercise. He also had high blood pressure.

So we supplemented with fresh juice and began making better food choices. We cut out excessive dairy, corn syrup, preserved and processed food, and all junk food. We ate better, juiced and felt better. Over the next year my partner lost 30 lbs and I lost ten.  Our skin looked healthier, we felt lighter, and my partner’s blood pressure is normal.

Feeling better in the new year of 2013 it was time to tackle the next issue which were my teeth. From years of neglect and smoking a pack or more of cigarettes a day for more than 20 years, my teeth were in poor condition! I also was horribly ashamed of them.   I was so addicted to tobacco. I never never never thought I could be a nonsmoker.

Having spent the last year using the mantra “what would Joe Cross do?” I took the bull by the horns, and with the encouragement and referral of my neighbor I went to see a well-known dentist in Mexico.

The doctor inspected my teeth and acknowledged that there was some work to be done. He asked how I ate and I told him all fresh vegetable & fruit juice and real food.  He asked why I smoked and I told him I’m addicted. He said he could fix my teeth over the next several months, but asked me to help him by quitting or reducing the amount I smoked. I said I would try.

So five days before my first dental procedure I put a nicotine patch on. I then proceeded to follow the program to the letter for the next ten weeks.  Don’t get me wrong the first five days were brutal.  I still crave today but I can control it.  I just take a deep breath.  I’m now more than 10 weeks cigarette free, off of the patch and I’m doing okay.  My partner also joined my on the patch and is smoke free.

The moral to this story is not that Joe Cross is a magician but that magical things can happen when you allow good influences into your life and then let them build on top of each other. Joe Cross showed me something good. We took what we needed from it and moved forward.   I can’t believe I don’t smoke and it all started with a little film (with a big message) I saw on Netflix.

If you want to learn more about the effects of smoking, here’s a helpful infographic that explains the damage it can do.


Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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