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Weed and the Munchies: Why You Get Them and What to Eat

Posted by Canna Randa on Jun 01, 2021

When D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983, children were taught to stay away from marijuana because it was thought to be a dangerous gateway drug that could lead to other, more addictive and destructive drugs. Personally, the only thing that I have found marijuana to be a gateway for is the munchies and the couch-lock that comes with them.

What Are the Munchies?

The term "munchies" is commonly used to describe the cravings for food after consuming cannabis. Ask anyone who has ever consumed cannabis -- either recreationally or for medical purposes -- and they will likely report increased hunger and appetite as one of the side effects of herb. This increased appetite can be a blessing for cancer patients going through chemotherapy, people diagnosed with gastrointestinal disorders that make eating difficult, and others who struggle with disordered eating as well. For most other cannabis consumers, the munchies represent a side effect that makes eating while high more of a requirement than a choice.

Why Does Weed Give You the Munchies?

This is an excellent question with answers rooted in science and the human endocannabinoid system discovered in 1990 (yes -- you read that correctly -- 1990). The short version of this system is that our bodies produce internal compounds -- similar to those found in cannabis -- to interact with receptors and deal with vital bodily functions like:

  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Stress
  • Mood
  • Metabolism
  • Pain tolerance
  • Skin
  • Liver function
  • Kidney function 
  • And many more

The two best-known and most-studied receptors of the endocannabinoid system are cannabinoid type 1 (CB-1), primarily found in the central nervous system, and type 2 (CB-2), mostly found in the immune system as well as the peripheral nervous system. When stimulated by THC (the cannabinoid in marijuana responsible for its psychoactive effects), the CB-1 receptors in the hypothalamus, dopamine pathway, and olfactory system (which manages your sense of smell) in your brain are activated. 

THC tricks these parts of your brain, which are responsible for regulating hunger, energy balance, and emotions about satisfaction, into thinking that you are hungry. Ingesting THC has also been shown to release dopamine which enhances the pleasure of eating -- and doing pretty much any activity -- when you are high. 

Long story short: It’s not your fault that you consume massive quantities of Cheetos or ice cream when you get stoned. Weed munchies can make our brains love high-calorie fats, salts, and sugars  -- and they release extra dopamine when we consume these types of foods. Pairing this effect with weed is a double dose of dopamine which makes you feel extra awesome in the moment.

Does All Weed Cause Munchies?

Not all weed strains or cannabis products will necessarily cause the munchies. You’ll find that Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabidiol (CBD) sometimes suppress your appetite rather than amplify it. This means cannabis strains or products that are higher in CBD or THCV and lower in THC may have a lesser effect on stimulating appetite and may not cause the munchies as strongly, if at all. If you’re interested in a weed strain that doesn't cause munchies, be sure to try something higher in CBD.

How Can I Deal with the Dreaded Munchies?

There are definitely a few tricks to deal with an attack of the marijuana munchies. Get yourself prepared before your session to help you deal with the eventual hunger that creeps in.

Before You Smoke

  • Eat a Meal: Getting high on an empty stomach is just asking to get an extra-large dose of the munchies. By starting your journey with a full tummy, you can avoid hunger pains later.
  • Drink Water: We all know that our bodies are up to 60% water, so it makes sense to be as hydrated as possible before puffing the cheeba. It will also make you feel more full.
  • Portion Your Snacks: Bring out the snacks you are willing to consume. By making your snack portions visible and easily accessible, you subconsciously give yourself an endpoint to your snacking. The best types of snacks are popcorn, nuts, granola, trail mix, fruits, and veggies with dips. These snacks can satisfy both sweet and salty cravings while also keeping you away from snacks that you want to avoid.

During Your Sesh

  • Stay Hydrated: Keep drinking water. Your mouth is probably dry and tastes gross. Water will help, and sports drinks like Gatorade will help even more.
  • Don’t Overindulge: Finding the right balance between THC content and what works well for you is essential. Too much THC will turn you into a Hungry Hungry Hippo, and too little may not do what you want it to.
  • Listen to Your Body: If you are hungry, eat. If you are bored, find something to do. Don’t eat because you are bored.

After You’re Lifted

  • Eat Sensibly: Munch on your pre-portioned snacks to satisfy your sweet and salty cravings.
  • Avoid Fats: If you are feeling too high, do not eat anything high in fat, as this can cause extra absorption of THC. Conversely, eat some avocados or peanut butter if you want your high to be longer and stronger.
  • Love Your Liquids: Are you sensing a theme? Staying hydrated is an integral part of enjoying cannabis without succumbing to munchie madness. Drink anything caffeine-free that isn’t loaded with sugars to keep yourself good to toke.
  • Chew Some Gum: Get the taste of weed and snacks out of your mouth by chewing some sugar-free gum. This can also help with post-sesh appetite suppression.

Marijuana munchies are not a myth. Keeping these steps in mind while you partake should help you through even the worst munchie attack. While some people use cannabis for headaches or mood swings, others use it to gain an appetite.

While the weed munchies can be a source of enjoyment for some, try to set yourself up to make healthy choices while under the influence of cannabis. Try setting out nutritious snacks before lighting up to maintain a balanced diet when the THC munchies kick in. Kind of like meal planning, you might need to visit one of our dispensaries near O'Hare airport and get the cannabis goodies you'll need to prep for your weekly munchies.

That said, if you can afford the calories, it feels incredible to get high and indulge once in a while. You’ve had your favorite decadent dessert, but have you had your favorite decadent dessert on weed?

Hit me up on social media, and let's spark up a conversation and trade munchie tips!

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