10 Foods And Drinks That Can Help You Quit Smoking, According To Health Professionals

The New Year is one of the most popular times for people to start thinking about quitting smoking, and there are a number of foods and drinks out there that can actually help you do it. If you're considering kicking your smoking habit, you're probably on the lookout for ways to make quitting easier. From foods and drinks to curb your cravings to ones that will keep your hands and mouth busy and distracted, making it less likely you'll reach for a cigarette, we've rounded up 10 that can help you quit smoking.

In this article, we've utilized a variety of reputable sources, including advice from health professionals and scientific studies. Where relevant, we'll also draw on our own experiences with quitting smoking, including foods or drinks that have helped us. We'll include a longer, more detailed explanation of our methodology at the end of the article, so you always know where the information we provide is coming from.

1. Sugar-free hard candy or lollipops

Research shows that keeping your mouth — and hands — busy can help you quit smoking by easing oral fixation. The term "oral fixation" refers to an obsessive behavior involving the mouth, such as smoking, but can also mean things like nail-biting or drinking. Treating an oral fixation involves stopping the negative behavior and can also include replacing the problematic behavior with a positive alternative, such as eating or drinking something whenever you crave a cigarette.

Quitting smoking can increase your cravings for sweet treats, but try to avoid sugary chocolate bars, cakes, and sweets and instead opt for sugar-free hard candy or lollipops. As a bonus, a lollipop gives you something to hold, stopping you from missing that cigarette between your fingers. Sugar-free gum is another great option.

It's a good idea to keep your sugar-free candy and lollipops near where your ashtray and cigarettes would normally be. This means you'll always have something to reach for when a craving strikes.

2. Popcorn

All the time you spent smoking needs to be redirected toward positive behavior when you quit, and distraction is key to kicking the habit for good. Low-calorie savory snacks such as popcorn not only help to distract you, but they also keep your mouth busy and help you feel full.

Air-popped popcorn is a healthy choice, but go easy on the salt — or go for sweet popcorn in moderation, if you're craving sugar. Skip the butter to ensure your snack is as healthy a choice as possible, and pop your own corn at home if you can, in order to avoid additives in store-bought brands.

There are some healthy store-bought options for popcorn out there. Look for brands that only contain popcorn and salt or sugar, without any other added artificial flavors or ingredients, for the healthiest choice. The delicious crunch and savory flavor will keep you from thinking about smoking your next cigarette.

3. Milk

We all know that milk and cookies are a classic combo, but how about replacing cigarettes with a glass of milk? A 2007 study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research showed that smokers who drank milk prior to sparking up felt the cigarette tasted bad and had an unpleasant, bitter aftertaste.

This doesn't just apply to milk — apparently, any dairy products have the power to make your cigarette taste awful and help you kick the habit. In the same study, 19% of participants said that dairy products, including cheese and yogurt, made cigarettes taste worse for them. True, this doesn't mean that drinking milk will definitely ensure you hate the taste of cigarettes, but it's worth giving this a go to see if it works for you.

Try drinking a glass of milk when you get a cigarette craving. This might help you cut back on the number of cigarettes you smoke and may even be beneficial in helping you quit smoking completely.

4. Sugar-free gum and mints

It's not unusual to crave sweet things when trying to quit smoking, but rather than turning to sugar-free lollipops and hard candy, why not try satiating your sweet craving, keeping your mouth busy, and freshening your breath all at once with sugar-free gum and mints?

According to a 1997 study written up in the journal Addictive Behaviors, chewing gum helps reduce cravings and can also help with withdrawal from nicotine. The study included 20 participants, all dependent smokers, who each smoked a cigarette prior to the study's commencement and were told they were unable to smoke for the rest of the time. 

Each participant watched a movie and then waited half an hour. Half the participants were given access to chewing gum throughout the study, while half were not allowed gum. Participants were assessed both immediately following the movie and 30 minutes after the end of the movie, and the results showed that chewing gum alleviates withdrawal and reduces craving in nicotine-dependent individuals when they are not able to smoke.

5. Ginseng tea

Though there's not much scientific evidence to prove its efficacy, ginseng, in particular ginseng tea, is a popular remedy recommended by those who have successfully quit smoking or tried to quit. A 2022 study published in the Journal of Ginseng Research did find that Korean red ginseng extract helped block drug-induced addictive behaviors in rodents. Bear in mind, though, that this wasn't a human study, and more studies are needed to provide conclusive evidence that ginseng could have similar effects in humans.

It's thought that the saponins in ginseng may help to prevent nicotine-triggered dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter in our brains that helps us to feel motivated and happy, is released when the brain expects a reward. Nicotine from cigarettes causes a massive release of dopamine in the brain, leading to the development of an addiction and reward cycle that makes it hard to quit smoking. 

Drinking ginseng tea may therefore help make smoking less rewarding and thus easier to quit. Red ginseng extract is also available in capsule form if you don't want to drink the tea.

6. Yogurt

The Nicotine & Tobacco Research study indicated that dairy products such as cheese and milk can make smoking taste unpleasant, causing cigarettes to have a bitter aftertaste. The same is true of yogurt, another dairy product that could help you quit smoking.

Adding more yogurt to your diet is easy. Snack on yogurt and fresh fruit, have a bowl of yogurt with some granola for breakfast, make a smoothie with yogurt, or whip up tzatziki, a Greek dip with yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and sour cream. You can even add yogurt to soup, use it as a dip for fresh vegetable sticks, or use it in a delicious blue cheese dressing.

Whenever a cigarette craving strikes, have some yogurt handy for a snack. If mornings are when you find yourself wanting a cigarette most, yogurt for breakfast might help kick your cravings to the curb, or at least cause your cigarette to taste bad enough when you light up that you won't want to continue smoking it.

7. Fresh fruit and vegetables

Sticks of fresh vegetables, such as carrot, celery, zucchini, cucumber, and other crunchy vegetables, give you something to hold when your fingers are missing cigarettes. They also help with oral fixation by keeping your mouth busy with something other than smoking. Chewing on carrots, pickles, apples, or celery is recommended by the National Cancer Institute as a way to keep your mouth occupied when the urge to smoke strikes. As a bonus, the 2007 Nicotine & Tobacco Research study also found that eating fresh fruit and vegetables makes cigarettes taste worse afterward.

Sliced fresh fruit is another great option to ease oral fixation. The sugar in fruit could also help you stop craving sweet things like cake or chocolate when you're trying to quit. According to a 2013 study also written up in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, smokers tend to eat fewer fresh fruits and vegetables daily compared to non-smokers. This is one way to change that! The study of 1,000 smokers revealed those who ate the most fruits and vegetables were three times more likely to have managed to have gone at least 30 days without smoking than those who ate the least amount of fresh produce.

8. Smoothies

Just as eating fresh produce can help you quit by making cigarettes taste bad, so can smoothies. If you're struggling to pack fruit and vegetables into your busy day, smoothies are a great option to take on the go, and the best part about them is that you can add whatever produce you like best or that you have at hand.

You can sip your smoothie when a cigarette craving strikes and know you're getting loads of nutrients and vitamins. Because smoothies are naturally sweet, they'll also satisfy sugar cravings, making it less likely you'll reach for sweets or chocolate.

A 1989 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that smoking depletes levels of vitamin C in the body, so opt for vitamin C-packed smoothies with ingredients like lemon, kiwi, pineapple, mango, and orange for a healthy boost while you're trying to quit. You could even try a spinach smoothie with avocado and apple.

9. Green tea

Did you know that a cup of green tea could help reduce your nicotine cravings? Quitting smoking can leave you feeling jittery, so if you're a three-cups-of-coffee-before-noon person, you might want to cut back your caffeine intake. Switching to green tea could be a good move, with around 30-50 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup of green tea, compared to around 80-100 milligrams in a same-size cup of coffee.

In 2010, a study published in Science China Life Sciences used tea in cigarette filters and found that doing so can introduce amino acids and micronutrients that can reduce nicotine cravings. As a bonus, a 2017 written up in Clinical Nutrition Experimental indicated that green tea may also help to mitigate tissue damage by smoking.

In some parts of the world, you'll even find green tea cigarettes that contain no nicotine. These have been around in Vietnam for decades but are relatively unknown in the U.S. and are designed to provide the same sensation as smoking, without any of the harmful chemicals. 

10. Nuts

One well-known way to kick your smoking habit is to ensure you stay distracted from cigarette cravings. Keeping your mouth — and hands — busy can help in this regard, and that's where snacks come in.

Stay away from heavily salted, processed snacks like chips and pretzels and go for more natural options like unsalted nuts. From hazelnuts to almonds and cashews to peanuts, nuts are packed with energy, protein, and nutrients. Pistachios are a good choice, as it takes time and effort to de-shell them, providing further distraction from your cigarette cravings.

When it comes to the healthiest nuts, almonds are right up there, packed with 12.5 grams of fiber per 100-gram portion. They're also loaded with vitamin E. Walnuts are an antioxidant-packed choice and can help fight inflammation thanks to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Meanwhile, Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, which may help prevent cancer.


We used a combination of scientific studies and research published in journals such as Nicotine & Tobacco Research and Addictive Behaviors to source some of the best foods and drinks to help you quit smoking. We also consulted trusted health websites such as Healthline, Mayo Clinic, and Medical News Today for established advice from professionals.

As well as suggesting foods and drinks that can help you quit smoking, we researched exactly how each item on our list can help you kick your habit for good — for example, by making cigarettes taste unpleasant or by helping prevent dopamine release caused by smoking.