Preparing to Quit Smoking : The Serotonin Boosting Diet

When you quit smoking, you are no longer manipulating your Serotonin levels with Nicotine. Serotonin levels drop causing you to feel irritable, have anxiety, increased hunger and often times feeling like you just can’t think straight.  Many people begin to eat to manipulate their brain chemistry. Craving foods, such as sweets, is your brain trying to boost serotonin levels by eating.  Many people overeat because it makes them feel better,  overeating and eating the wrong things causes weight gain.  This negative aspect of quitting is easily addressed. The Serotonin Power Diet will help manipulate your feel good chemicals through a special diet with snacks composed primarily of carbohydrates, reducing the negative aspects of quitting, weight gain and anxiety.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE DIET Tryptophan is the amino acid that enters the brain and is converted to Serotonin.  Sufficient levels of Serotonin make you feel calm, happy, energetic, and appetite is suppressed. When you eat certain carbohydrates, insulin is released into the blood stream, causing amino acids to cross the blood brain barrier and enter the brain.  Other amino acids from proteins can get in the way and block Tryptophan, the larger molecule, from entering the brain.  Fats slow the digestion process and add calories.  For this reason, it is important that the carbohydrate snack contain minimal amounts of fat and protein, consuming complex carbohydrates maximizes the amount of Tryptophan entering the brain.  The recommended carbohydrate to protein ratio is 4 to 1.  Simple sugars will also increase Tryptophan uptake, but not fructose. This is probably one reason why sweets are craved and consuming them makes you feel good.  Mood and hunger can be controlled by diet and eating certain snacks at certain times. When you quit smoking following the diet will help you feel better, reduce anxiety and minimize weight gain.
The diet and the snacks are from the book “The Serotonin Power Diet” written by Judith J. Wurtman, PhD, and Nina Frusztajer, MD.  The diet is Phase 1 – The Serotonin Surge Diet presented in the book. All of their recommendations are based on clinical research trials. To order the book go to


The Snacks


Nutrition Guide
Calories:  About 120
Carbohydrates : 30 grams
Protein: less than 5 grams
Fat: less than 3 grams
Recommended: Pita Bread, Pretzels, Rice Cakes, Crackers, Reduced Fat Triscuits, Licorice, Fat Free Hot Chocolate, Fat Free Fig Newtons, Fat Free Graham Crackers
Time of Snacks
Snack 1: 1 hour before lunch
Snack 2: 2-3 hours after lunch
Snack 3: 3-4 hours after diner


The Diet


Protein Serving: 2-3 ounces
Recommended: 1/2 cup of cottage cheese or 2-3 slices of very lean ham or 2-3 slices of smoked salmon
Complex Carbs Serving: 30-60 grams
Recommended: 1-2 slices of bread or 3/4 -1 cup of cerealor 1 english muffin or bagel
Fresh Fruit Serving: 20-30 grams
Recommended: Apple, Orange, Banana, or Pear


Protein Serving: 4-6 ounces
Recommended: Turkey, Fish, Chicken, Beef, or Pork
Vegetable Serving: 2-3 cups


Complex Carb Serving: 1/2 cup of beans, peas, or lentils with 1/2 cup of rice, barley, pasta, polenta, or quinoawith 2 slices of bread
Vegetable Serving: 2-3 cups


The Snacks are the most important. They will boost your serotonin levels, helping you feel better. The Diet is important but it is flexible. If you need protein at dinner, remember the 4 to 1 carbohydrate to protein ratio and try to have about 4 ounces of a protein high in Tryptophan. Foods high in Tryptophan include turkey, shrimp, tuna, halibut, salmon, sardines, cod, and scallops. A 4-ounce serving contains between 250-400 mg of L-tryptophan per serving. Turkey and Shrimp have the highest content.The reduction in protein and large amount of complex carbs are to help boost serotonin levels and the large amount of vegetables have the fiber to keep you feeling full. The diet is designed to boost serotonin levels helping reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, reduce food cravings and weight gain. The effects of Serotonin are felt within 20-30 minutes. Maintain the snacks and the diet for at least a month. Maintain the snacks for as long as needed.

Vitamin Supplements

Recommended: Super B Complex for Healthy Nervous System Omega 3 Supplement such as Krill Oil, Fish Oil or Flaxseed Oil for Heart and Brain Health
These are recommended by the author of the uQuitSmoking Program for good health, not the authors of The Serotonin Power Diet. Please consult your physician before you start to take them. The effects of the supplements may take several weeks.
If you are diabetic, consult your physician or dietician before starting the diet. You may want to just try the snacks, always check your blood sugar and adjust the portions to the recommendations of your doctor and your dietician.

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