If you have ever smoked cannabis, you are probably quite familiar with the munchies. You know, that overwhelming craving for a sweet and/or salty snack that comes on at some point after smoking some weed? Although a common side-effect of cannabis use that can be very beneficial to a medical patient needing to increase their appetite, succumbing to the munchies can be detrimental to some marijuana users who may be prone to give in to such cravings as regularly as they smoke. So, what exactly causes the munchies? and how best to manage them?
What Causes the Munchies?
Well, you can blame the same chemical that creates a the high after smoking weed. Yup. You guessed it: It’s THC (short for Tetrahydrocannabinol).
Our brain naturally produces its own cannabinoids, which are responsible for controlling our mood, memory, pain reception, and appetite. However, when we smoke cannabis, THC attaches to our cannabinoid receptors and mimics the natural cannabinoids in our bodies, which signals to our neurons that we are hungry. So, why does THC cause us to crave junk food instead of healthier options? Researchers aren’t 100% certain about this. However, one theory involves the flavour profiles that THC enhances. Some researchers have found that THC enriches the taste of sweet, salty, and fatty foods, which could explain why we naturally gravitate to chips and cookies, rather than salads when we are high.
Tip #1 for Managing the Munchies: Eat a Steady Diet Throughout the Day
The first step to managing your cannabis-induced munchies is to eat a steady diet throughout the day. Eating 3 to 5 small, and relatively healthy meals will help to keep your hunger levels at bay when those munchies inevitably come-a-creepin’. Now, if you are a wake-and-baker, try to eat a protein and carb-packed, nutritious breakfast. Carbs are great at filling you up fast, and protein keeps you full for longer. Plus!, you can use breakfast time as a way to get in a bit of those sweet or salty cravings!
Tip #2 for Managing the Munchies: Stay Hydrated
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Not only will drinking a lot throughout the day help to minimize the cotton mouth, but it can also help to reduce the cravings for an unnecessary snack. If you feel the munchies coming on, try gulping down a glass of water to try to trick your brain into thinking you are eating something. Drinking a decent amount of water can make you feel quite full. Also, smoking dehydrates you, so you should probably drink more water anyway. Staying hydrated is a win-win.
Tip #3 for Managing the Munchies: Choose a Different Strain
Sometimes, it’s the strain to blame. Instead of purchasing a cannabis strain containing high in levels of the THC compound, opt for one high in the chemical compound THCV. These types of strains are still sure to get you quite buzzy, but THCV is also known for its ability to suppress appetite.
The theory behind THCV as an appetite suppressant, is that it seems to block the cannabinoid CB1 Receptor. This receptor, which is responsible for increasing our appetite, but when it is blocked, so too are some of those signals that let us know that we’re hungry.
Tip #4 for Managing the Munchies: Purchase ‘Healthier’ Snack Alternatives
If you REALLY want to indulge after your smoke sesh, create a proactive snack plan and come home with healthier options. For example, if you want something sweet, load up on fruit, yogurt, or smoothie-making ingredients. You can also opt for low-sugar pudding, or even Cool Whip!
If you are in the mood for something saltier, try pretzels, popcorn, or a handle full of nuts over instead of a bag of potato chips. If it’s a colder day, a bowl of warm soup and a grilled cheese is are sure to satisfy those salty and savoury cravings!
Tip #4 for Managing the Munchies: Distract Yourself
Okay. This one may be hard to do with munchies on your mind, but try distracting yourself to avoid overindulging. For many smokers, too much can be a buzz-killer. What if you’re not ready to come down yet.?!? You can engage yourself in various activities and continue to enjoy your high, and ignore the urge to pig out. For example, you can take a nature walk, listen to music, play video games, or indulge your creative side BEFORE going to the fridge. Check out our blog article, on 6 Things to Try While High: A Stoner’s Guide to Beating Boredom to help you with some ideas.
By the Potmaster General, for Potsmart
Why weed makes you super hungry, according to science | PBS NewsHour
THCV: Everything We Know About So-Called ‘Diet Weed’ (healthline.com)