In spite of all the times you have heard that smoking is a nicotine habit, over the past 10 years and working to help thousands of people to quit smoking, I have found something quite different to be the truth.
The interesting thing is that when I question smokers, the vast majority of them quickly agree that it is something else.
Basically smoking is a series of associated habits, such as when driving or on the phone, when stressed, happy, relaxing etc.
But one association is a little more complex than the others. It is coffee.
Unlike the other triggers caffeine brings its own set of complexities to the party. We drink coffee to wake us up in the morning, to relax with friends at morning tea, and we like to finish of a meal with coffee and dessert.
In studies with bees it has been shown that the caffeine triggers the desire for food, and just a taste of caffeine makes then want to eat.
So how does this work with smoking? You are combing two substances, which trigger the dopamine reward system in your brain, and each is firing off the other.
When you have a cigarette you want a coffee, and when you have a coffee you will want a cigarette.
Not every smoker will have to quit coffee to give up smoking. Usually clients will voice more than a passing concern when preparing to quit.
If this is you it is important to quit coffee first. You will have to cut down over a week or more. Even one cup per day can result in headaches when it is stopped.
Firstly cut down on the amount of coffee in each cup, then the number of cups per day.
Then you can go onto de-caffinated if you want. Just make sure it is water decaffeinated and not the chemical versions.
Once you are fine without the coffee then your quit smoking session stands a great chance of being successful.
I advise clients who are concerned not to quit both at once as the added stress will reduce their chance of success.
After being a non-smoker for a few weeks you can safely start coffee again, but I advise to only do so initially when it is not possible to smoke, or borrow a cigarette.
Quickly you will become used to enjoying your coffee once again without the need to smoke. Just one important thing is be aware that you can easily link coffee to another addiction, that of sugar and sugar rich foods. So if you don’t want to gain weight just enjoy your coffee by itself.