If you are craving sweets after quitting smoking, that is normal. This stems from a psychological reaction initially caused by cigarettes.
According to Rachel Iverson from Sanford Health, when we perceive something as dangerous but also a high reward activity that will help us survive, the body secrets dopamine to help promote high reward behaviors. She says this is because the body is equipped for survival and looks for that “rush.”
After putting out your last cigarette, she says the brain looks for other avenues which can create that same stimulation that the neurotransmitter dopamine produces.
Iverson said, “As a civilization we kind of, especially recently, we’ve kind of demonized sugar. It’s kind of become this thing that is so evil and dangerous, that makes it more alluring.”
The dopamine release does not come from the cigarette or the sweet itself though, as she says it comes from the anticipation of the the risk/reward behavior.
“So you get a flood of dopamine when you slice a piece of cake, and it’s not necessarily the cake that is the trigger for that. It’s your body’s anticipation point,” she said.
She also says quitting sugar cold turkey can lead to the habit becoming a reward, and can lead to heavier smoking or binge eating.