I know you’re out there. You, with the shiny New Year’s resolutions and nicotine stained fingers. And now you’re desperately pleading with Google to find you an easy way out – kind of like us writers, buying “how to write” books in order to feel productive when, in fact, we’d rather pick lint from the carpet under the bed than apply pen to paper and write.
I’m going to share with you – absolutely free – one weird trick that helped me to stop smoking and avoid all cravings. No kidding, seriously, this is absolutely not going to cost you anything and the supplies are like $0.98/lb., last time I checked, and you can grow your own. Legally. In all 50 states. No doctor’s prescription required.
And I realize, right about now, that if I don’t straighten up and stop laughing my way through this post, I’m going to be inundated with spam fit to drive a massive server to its knees before midnight.
How I Did It, and You Can, Too
I recently celebrated my six-year quit anniversary (December 8, 2006 at 2:00 PM). Nobody asks me, anymore, “What’s your secret? How did you do it?” After six years as a non-smoker, I can only share with you what worked for me, and I share it freely, provided you do the same (if you charge anyone for this info, you will receive 100 years of bad karma and a bill from me in return).
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!?”
— W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951
Post that quote where you can see it daily. Take it as truth.
Do not think of yourself as a smoker trying to quit, or as a former smoker, etc. You are a NON-SMOKER. Believe that from day one. (If trying to lose weight, you are a THIN PERSON. You are what you want to be. Period. Think of Michelangelo, seeing the angel inside the stone and chipping away to release it. That “angel” is whatever is trapped inside you, and has only to be released. Please do not be a smart ass and say, “I am a billionaire.” Some people believe it works that way; I’m not one of them.)
Now, go out and buy yourself about ten raw jalapeño peppers, to start. When you get a craving for a cigarette, eat enough jalapeño pepper to get a good burning sensation in your mouth. If you are already a hot pepper addict, you may have to get acquainted with the Naga Jalokia pepper, and if you can eat those, raw… I’m not sure what to tell you. Anyway, I believe this will have several beneficial effects to aid in your quest to quit smoking (aside from the nutritional value of the pepper, itself): One, it will draw your attention away from the craving by causing a small amount of pain. The pain, in turn, will release a pleasant rush of calming endorphins. More importantly, perhaps – well, there are no scientific studies I know of to back this up, but I have a theory – a simple substitution theory.
I noticed, as I quit smoking six years ago, that I developed an intense craving for spicy salsa. I mean to the point of practically forgoing the chips and drinking the stuff from the cups they serve it in at restaurants. So I tried to figure out what was up with that (I was sure I was not pregnant). At first, I thought maybe it was a nutrient I was craving. What’s in salsa? Not much, really – mostly tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and hot peppers.
I found out that the jalapeño peppers are surprisingly nutritious and low-calorie. I think you might burn more calories hopping around, fanning your mouth, muttering “Ow, ow, ow!” than you could reasonably ingest in one sitting, though I will tell you that tolerance for the heat of Capsaicin is likely to increase, fairly quickly, over time. I can now pop one in my mouth and chew without getting a horrified expression on my face.
Unfortunately, consuming a half cup or more of spicy salsa a day, I soon began to itch. I remembered that I’ve always had a bit of an allergic reaction to tomatoes – if I eat huge quantities of them over a short period of time. I just itch. There’s nothing visible, no adverse effect on my breathing, nothing scary – just this nasty phantom itch that can’t quite be scratched. Out of curiosity, I wanted to know if I was the only one that had this problem. I started searching the Internet for answers.
As it turns out, I’m not the only one, but there appear to be more people who react to potatoes or to green tomatoes. Huh? Potatoes? Where did potatoes enter into it? Interestingly enough, they’re in the Nightshade family. And apparently, when green (same with green tomatoes and green peppers), they can be somewhat toxic, and they can cause itching. (Hot tip: Do not buy potatoes that have been kept in lighted areas and show any signs of turning green. Store them in a cool, dry, dark place. Green potatoes really aren’t good for you.) Green sweet peppers have a tiny bit of this toxicity; however, red peppers lose most of their toxicity, and also pick up a load of Vitamin C. No wonder they’re more expensive! I mean, the orange growers couldn’t hold a candle to the pepper growers of the world, if the pepper growers ever started pushing the health benefits of red Bell peppers and pointed out how much more Vitamin C they have than your average orange.
So we’ve found this commonality between potatoes (funny, I also like baked potatoes with raw jalapeño slices on them), tomatoes (great in salsa and spaghetti, especially paired with jalapeño peppers), everything in the pepper family except peppercorns (which really aren’t in the same family as all the other peppers in the world), and…oh, let’s not forget eggplant. Yep, it’s also in the Nightshade family. Guess what else is?
TOBACCO. Yep, this is where the weirdness in my “one weird trick” comes in.
Apparently, I had substituted an unhealthy craving for tobacco with a healthier one for other nightshades, particularly hot peppers. Now, every time I feel stressed or annoyed or tired or in need of a break – any of the things that used to trigger an urge to smoke – I crave jalapeño peppers. If they come with tomatoes, sweet peppers, or potatoes, that’s fine by me!
I honestly have not had one craving for a cigarette since about the three-week mark after I quit. But my appetite and tolerance for jalapeño and Serrano peppers is legendary.
I am not a doctor or a botanist. I’m a writer and, for the last six years, a non-smoker. This is my personal experience. Your results may vary. I am not selling anything; these tips are freely given, and unlike some of the humor on this blog, the suggestions are not a joke. I am not offering any guarantees; your success is ultimately up to you. You have to want to quit more than you want to smoke. If you don’t smoke now, I strongly recommend you never start – it’s much easier not to ever have to quit, and that goes for most bad habits.
Thanks to Debbie and her post, MY CIGARETTE ADDICTION AND HOW TO COPE WITH NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL, for inspiring me to dig out this post and update it. I hope it helps someone stick to their new year’s resolution!