To kick the smoking habit, a doctor recommended anticipating roadblocks and determining specific triggers so that that they can be managed.

Losing weight and quitting smoking are among the most popular resolutions at the start of the new year. 

Kung desidido ka, hindi mo na ipipilit ang bawal [If you’ve already made up your mind, then you’re not going to do what’s not healthy for you],” said Dr. Patrick Siy, an endocrinologist, during a recent health forum organized by the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism (PSEDM) and the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP).  

To kick the smoking habit, Dr. Glynna Ong-Cabrera, an internal medicine and cardiovascular and pulmonary physiotherapist, recommended five Ds, a few of which can also be used to curb the desire to stress eat.

“Anticipate your roadblocks and determine your specific triggers so you can manage them,” she said. “Triggers can be managed with the five D’s: delays, distraction, doing something else, deep breathing, and drinking water.”

To shed pounds, the two most important aspects to focus on are diet and exercise. Diabetics have to limit their intake of carbohydrates and sugary drinks, as well as set aside time for physical movement 30 minutes a day. 

Portion control must be enforced, even during special occasions. “You will never run out of occasions to attend. There’s always a birthday or an anniversary you’ll be invited to. If you’ve made the decision to live healthy, you can still enjoy special occasions, but you have to limit your intake,” said Mr. Siy.

The ideal meal serving, he added, would be to fill a fourth of a standard-sized, nine-inch plate with lean protein such as fish or chicken, a fourth with complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, and the rest with fruits and leafy vegetables. 

Considering the other food items that constitute one’s diet is also important. Milk tea, for instance, has tapioca pearls that contain sugar; three-in-one coffee is equivalent to a three-fourths cup of rice; and sugar-free mamon is equivalent to one cup of rice (one can have sugar-free mamon instead of rice, said Mr. Siy).

Quitting smoking, meanwhile, will not only benefit smokers but also those around them, because secondhand smoke exposure can also cause an increased risk for health problems such as lung cancer and high blood pressure. 

Ms. Ong-Cabrera pointed out that cigarette contains toxins including formaldehyde (used for embalming corpses), naphthalene (used to kill cockroaches); and cadmium (used to manufacture batteries and plastics). 

E-cigarettes are just as harmful. Over 80 chemicals that have been found in e-liquid and e-cigarette vapors as of 2019. These chemicals include acrolein (an herbicide used to kill weeds) and propylene glycol (used to make paint solvent). 

As of February 2020, 2,807 e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) cases were reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resulting in 68 deaths

In the Philippines, the first vaping-related illness was confirmed by the Department of Health in November 2019. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine also reported that those who use e-cigarettes, or use it with tobacco, were at a five-times or seven-times increased risk of a COVID-19 diagnosis, as compared to non-users.

“It [vaping] is not a smoking cessation strategy because it also entails a lot of ill effects,” said Ms. Ong-Cabrer. “Ang nag-quit because of vape, hindi nag-quit ’yun. Nag-shift lang [Those who quit smoking because of vape didn’t really quit. They just shifted to a different type of smoking].” — Patricia B. Mirasol