New program aims to help Islanders quit smoking through cooking
Cooking to Quit will run at Sobeys locations in Stratford and Summerside next month
The Canadian Cancer Society on P.E.I. is teaming up with Sobeys in Stratford and Summerside to help people quit smoking by getting creative in the kitchen.
The new Cooking to Quit program aims to help people who have quit or are quitting smoking manage their cravings through nutrition and healthy eating habits.
Jayna Stokes, provincial lead with the society, said the group is always looking for creative ways to support people as they quit tobacco and wanted to develop a program that would promote healthy habits participants could easily adopt within their day-to-day lives.
"They're going to learn about wonderful things to replace tobacco with in terms of nutrition and healthy eating," Stokes said.
"They're going to learn interesting things, like one thing is their tastebuds are probably going to change so Sobeys is going to help you with what spices go with what foods," she added.
Throughout the four-week program, participants will work with a certified tobacco educator and a registered dietitian to develop recipes and strategies to keep them from returning to tobacco.
Margaret Young, a registered dietitian with Sobeys who will be running the weekly program, said quitting smoking and tobacco products is very closely connected to nutrition.
"They experience a lot of withdrawal symptoms that are related to nutrition," Young said. "Weight-gain is one people often think of, but also there might be food cravings, there might be increased hunger or decreased energy."
Young said participants will be working with a professional chef to prepare a three-course meal during each session and explore different healthy snack options people can turn to to help satisfy a nicotine craving.
"Healthy eating can help manage any of those withdrawal symptoms, so we want to teach people how to manage those withdrawal symptoms with healthy foods that nourish their bodies," she added.
Young said a common tip for people trying to quit smoking is to distract themselves from the craving with another activity.
"Go for a walk, read a book, call a friend, but going in the kitchen and cooking could be another outlet and it's very creative so, hopefully we're going to inspire people."
She said ultimately, cooking is an activity people can share with their families and friends and allows those quitting smoking to find support in others who are trying to do the same.
"It's really about learning, education," Stokes said.
"But really more importantly it's about creating that peer support because they're all doing this in their own way but coming together as a group with that common desire to get rid of tobacco," Stokes said.
Stokes said the program was funded by a grant from the Department of Health and Wellness. The first session will be begin on Feb. 4 at the Sobeys location in Stratford with another program running in Summerside beginning Feb. 15.
Stokes said the program is free to join and anyone interested in signing up can do so by contacting the Canadian Cancer Society or either Sobeys store.