While weed is my favorite plant because it helps me sleep, calms my nerves, and more it also brings on something that can get quite annoying: the munchies aka an intense feeling of hunger.
Seasoned smokers can all relate to that raging hunger that comes on after a smoke session. It comes out of nowhere and all you can think about is food! This side effect can be awesome for people that use cannabis to stimulate their appetites as it is a proven way to help cancer patients with their appetites, for example.
For those of us looking to use get the benefits of weed while keeping the munchies at bay, it’s helpful to understand why weed gives us the urge. It has a lot to do with how weed interacts with our endocannabinoid system.
THC taps into the part of your brain that controls a variety of bodily functions including your appetite. Researchers believe that THC interacts with a hormone in the stomach called ghrelin that stimulates appetite and makes you think that you’re hungry even when you’ve just eaten.
In addition to stimulating our appetites, THC also makes food smell and taste better. The olfactory bulb in the brain magnifies your sense of smell and that makes you think that you’re hungry and food seems more appealing. That sneaky olfactory bulb!
Tips to Combat The Munchies
Prepare In Advance
I know that after a couple of joints, I will be reaching for all things salty. If it comes in chip form, (potato chips, tortilla chips, you name it) I will kill it if I see it so in order to keep myself from devouring the whole bag, I don’t buy them. I even avoid the chip aisle at the grocery store when I’m high. (Shopping w/ the munchies will drain your wallet!)
We all have things that we love to eat and we know those guilty pleasures are going to be the first thing we turn to when we’re stoned. When I’m high, my will power goes out the window so rather than hope I make a healthy choice, I get rid of that temptation.
Keep Track of Your Strains
You may notice that certain strains give you a more intense feeling of hunger than others which is normal. It makes sense because every strain affects us differently based on the cannabinoids and terpenes present.
When looking for the best strains that will give you the least chance at staring deep inside the fridge, look for strains high in CBD or THCV.
THC is what causes the munchies so strains high in CBD won’t give you an intense hunger like THC dominant strains. THCV is another cannabinoid found in weed that is less talked about than THC and CBD but can help to suppress your appetite. THCV is best found in concentrates so be sure to ask your budtender to show you vapes if you want to go this route.
Leafly has a great list of 10 cannabis strains that won’t make you (as) hungry.
Occupy Your Time While High
Boredom leads to thinking about food and thinking about food leads to snacking. As much as I love sitting on the couch doing nothing, I find that those are usually the times that my mind wanders to food.
When I use cannabis before a social event or working out, I’m not super focused on eating. When you’re laughing with friends, you aren’t thinking about food. Anything from a morning workout to a quarantine dance party can help preoccupy your mind enough to forget about feeling hungry.
It can be tempting to smoke back-to-back but in 1986 a small study showed that those smoking back-to-back increased the number of snacks consumed on average. Although this information is from a long time ago, if you’re having trouble with the munchies, take notice of whether your appetite intensifies after consuming back to back.
If you notice that your appetite gets stronger the more you consume, maybe don’t make smoking more weed the way to occupy your time.
“80% of working Americans say they do not drink enough water.”Quench USA, LLC
Sometimes what we think is hunger is actually just our body’s telling us we’re thirsty. Dehydration can cause dizziness, fatigue, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms so it’s important to make sure we are staying hydrated in general and especially when consuming cannabis.
Try drinking some water the next time you feel the munchies coming on and see if it helps!
While it is a wildly known fact that weed gives you the munchies, a lesser-known fact is that people who use cannabis tend to have lower fasting insulin levels and smaller waist sizes, according to a 2013 study by The American Journal of Medicine.
“Despite the evidence that cannabis [consumption] stimulates appetite in clinical trials and laboratory studies, users are actually less likely to be obese than non-users.”2011 National Survey
These stats help me chill out about the munchies. While I know that downing a whole bag of pretzels isn’t the best decision, I try not to freak out about it because the overall benefits of cannabis can even lead to weight loss.
Low stress and better sleep aid in weight loss. Cannabis can also make exercise more enjoyable so try to use it to also keep you active!