Hey Dave,

Name's Joey, a new reader of yours who recently stopped smoking and is trying to take on some healthier habits. This is how I came across your blog while looking for some guidance on leading a better life - I read some of your articles and immediately subscribed. I wanted to send a suggestion for some content I know would be very helpful to me hopefully many others in my situation - a guide or suggestions on coping with "withdrawal" symptoms that smokers or fast food addicts feel.

Thanks and keep the good stuff coming! --Joey

Thank you, Joey. Magazines are empty vessels without reader feedback. We don’t know which way to sail. Here are some top tips from across the internet (exercise your own quality control over credibility and veracity):

If you're in the routine of DRINKING A LOT at home, try out these five simple cutting down ideas:

1. Keep track of the alcohol units you’re drinking

The government advises that people should not regularly drink more than the lower risk guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (equivalent to a 175 ml glass of wine). ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week.
Using our unit calculator will make the calculations easier or you can sign up to MyDrinkaware to track your drinking over time.  

2. Know what you’re buying

A really easy way of cutting down on alcohol if you’re a wine drinker is to buy small (125ml) glasses for the house rather than the large 250ml ones. You’re more likely to spread one 750ml bottle over a few days if you’re not unwittingly pouring a third of it into one cavernous 250ml glass. 

3. Home measures

It’s worth buying an alcohol measure for when you next pour yourself a spirits-based drink at home. There will be no more guess work involved and you’ll be able to keep track of how much you’re drinking. Getting your measures spot on will also ensure your favorite drinks taste exactly as they do when you order them at the bar

4. Dinner only drinking

Instead of opening your whole evening up to drinking, why not just allocate dinner as the time you enjoy a drink? This gives you a leisurely period of time to have a glass of wine or beer, which can then be followed up nicely with a healthy dessert or hot drink to accompany the evening’s TV! 

5. Get inventive with your wine!

You might not see any harm in polishing off the last part of the bottle of wine you’ve been drinking, but in reality it could be what sends you over the daily unit guidelines. It’s a myth that wine doesn’t keep overnight, you just need a good bottle stop. It’s also surprising the amount of things you can do with leftover wine in the kitchen from freezing it for cooking to using older wine for vinaigrette! Read more on cooking with wine

That quick after work “reward” drink at five o’clock doesn't have to turn into a messy night – here's how.

Keep track of what you're drinking

Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks

Eat before or during your work drinks

Avoid rounds

Go alcohol free for the night

Source: drinkaware.co.uk

10 self-help tips to stop smoking

Also from Britain come these tips for stopping smoking:

If you want to stop smoking, you can make small changes to your lifestyle that may help you resist the temptation to light up.

Want to quit?

Connect with a friend who has stopped smoking, perhaps a group at work, and scan the Internet for “stop smoking” websites – often medical and health care sites such as WebMD.

Think positive

You might have given up before, but tell yourself that you’re really going to do it this time.

Make a plan to quit smoking

Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Don’t be put off by a wedding, party or other time when you’d normally smoke.

Change your diet

Is your after-dinner cigarette your favorite? A U.S .study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, make cigarettes taste terrible. So swap your usual steak or burger for a veggie pizza instead.  

Change your drink

The same study looked at drinks. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. So when you’re out, drink more water and juice. Some people find that simply changing their drink (for example, switching from wine to a vodka and tomato juice), affects their need to reach for a cigarette.  

Identify when you crave cigarettes

A craving can last five minutes. Before you give up, make a list of five-minute strategies. For example, you could leave the party for a minute, dance or go to the bar. And think about this: the combination of smoking and drinking heavily raises your risk of mouth cancer by 38 times. 

Get some quitting support

If friends or family members want to give up too, suggest to them that you give up together. Again, search for the many self-help resources now available on YouTube and the Internet.

Get moving

A review of scientific studies has proved that exercise (even a five-minute walk or stretch) cuts cravings and may help your brain to produce anti-craving chemicals.

Make non-smoking friends

When you’re at a party, stick with the non-smokers. "When you look at the smokers, don’t envy them," says Louise, 52, an ex-smoker. "Think of what they’re doing as a bit strange – lighting a small white tube and breathing in smoke."

Keep your hands and mouth busy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can make you twice as likely to succeed. As well as patches, there are tiny tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray. If you like holding a cigarette, use an inhalator. Try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy. 

Make a list of reasons to quit

Keep reminding yourself why you gave up. Make a list of the reasons and read it when you need support. Ex-smoker Chris, 28, says: "I used to take a picture of my baby daughter with me when I went out. If I was tempted, I’d look at that."

Source: The UK’s National Health Service (NHS)

How to Overcome an Addiction to Fast Food

Examine Your Eating Habits

Assess how often you stop at fast food places.

  • Is it every day or several times per week?
  • Do you find that your on-the-go lifestyle lands you in the fast food drive-thru more than once per day?

Consider what time of day you are stopping at fast food restaurants.

  • Do you grab a quick bite during your lunch break?
  • Do you pick up a meal on your way home from work because so you don’t have to go home and make dinner?
  • Does your morning routine include a fast food stop for breakfast on your way to work?
  • Do you experience late night cravings that prompt you to get in your car and drive to the closest fast food place?

Think about why you make the fast food stops. Identifying the underlying cause for your fast food addiction is an important step in breaking the habit

Review your examination of your habits to determine whether you have an addiction. Like just about any addiction out there, it is important to first recognize and understand that you do in fact have an addiction. Without acknowledging that there is a problem, you cannot get the help you need.

Accept the fact that you may need to alter your eating habits.

Acknowledge that you may have a bigger problem than you realized. For some people, it is an actual physical or physiological addiction that may require much more effort to curb rather than just accepting and altering diet and eating habits.

Start Investigating

Begin adding up all of the money that you spend on fast food. Try saving the receipts for a few weeks or pay only with a debit card so that you can total your fast food expenses. Chances are that you will be surprised to see how much money you are actually spending. Consider how much you may be able to save by purchasing food that you can prepare yourself at home.

Count all of the calories that you are consuming in the foods that you purchase from fast food places. Compare the ways that you can cut back on calories by preparing your own meals at home.

Examine what foods you are craving. Do you have a strong desire for cheesy products, dairy items, or red meats? If certain foods seem to be on your list of must-haves, it may be your body’s way of telling you that it needs that particular ingredient. This can be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency or from poor nutrition.

Keep track of how often you are craving specific items. If there seems to be a pattern, you may want to discuss it with your health care provider in order to rule out any possible deficiencies

Plan a Strategy

Consider how you will fulfill your needs once you stop frequenting fast food places. Plan out what foods you will purchase from the supermarket to replace your fast food meals.

Look at exactly what foods you are buying. Chances are that there are healthier options available for just about everything you are eating. Take the time to read and compare the food labels in order to choose the healthiest option available. It may be time consuming at first, but once you come to learn what the best choices are, shopping healthy will really be no different than your usual trip to the market. Keep in mind that the fresher the item, the more nutrition it offers.

Alter your normal purchases by changing things up and opting for healthy snacks. In order to incorporate the healthiest options, you need to replace that bag of chips with a bag of nuts.

Expect possible withdrawal symptoms when you stop eating certain foods or ingredients. Removing excess sugar from the body can leave you feeling tired. Lack of caffeine when the body is accustomed to it can lead to a headache. Know that your body will adjust to the change after several days.


Begin by removing soda from your beverage intake. For many individuals, this may prove to be the biggest challenge. Avoid all forms of soda. Diet and caffeine- free sodas are not really any better for you than regular soda. If this step proves to be very difficult, start off slowly. Begin decreasing the amount of soda you consume by replacing a few drinks here and there with a healthier option. Continue substituting other drinks for your soda until you are able to eliminate soda entirely.

Stop bringing unhealthy snacks into your home. Replace as much junk food snacks as you can with healthy options. By incorporating new choices and eating them often, you are allowing your tastes to adjust to new flavors. You may actually come to have some new favorite snacks that are good for you.

Form New Habits

Carry healthy snacks and drinks with you. Remember that you are trying to take the edge off your hunger. You do not want your snack to be your meal. If this proves to be a challenge for you, try bringing along a limited amount to snack on.

Keep healthy, convenient snacks such as nuts or trail mix in the car.

Purchase a small cooler if necessary. This is a great way to avoid a stop at a fast food place. Keeping it stocked with some yogurt, fresh fruits or carrots and ranch dip can help you to control your hunger until you are able to get home for your meal.

Limit your indulgences. If you absolutely must have something that you know is not really good for you, try to keep the portion size small. Purchasing a single portion size rather than an entire box can be effective.

If it is not possible to purchase small sizes and you are forced to buy a large portion, eat only a small amount and toss the rest out. You will want to eat it if you see that it is still available.

Stay away from all-you-can-eat offers. Many individuals find that it is too difficult to avoid overindulging. Many people think that they have to get their money’s worth and choose to eat until they are so full that it is actually uncomfortable. All-you-can-eat buffets make most people want to sample a little bit of everything. This almost always leads to eating much more food than is reasonable.

Carry healthy snacks and drinks with you. Remember that you are trying to take the edge off your hunger. You do not want your snack to be your meal. If this proves to be a challenge for you, try bringing along a limited amount to snack on.

Keep healthy, convenient snacks such as nuts or trail mix in the car.

Purchase a small cooler if necessary. This is a great way to avoid a stop at a fast food place. Keeping it stocked with some yogurt, fresh fruits or carrots and ranch dip can help you to control your hunger until you are able to get home for your meal.

Stick to your plan and don’t give up just because you are having a hard time. An occasional lapse is no reason to beat yourself up. If you fall off the wagon, try again and get back on track with a bit more effort this time. It does get easier as time goes on.

Source: wikiHow