It is well known that consuming cannabis causes most people to get something known as “the munchies,” or feelings of intense hunger. Put simply, this heightened appetite results from cannabinoids like THC activating cannabinoid receptors in the body. In a rodent study, those dosed with THC demonstrated enhanced sensitivity to smells and increased appetite compared to those that did not.
In addition to THC, other preclinical studies have investigated and support the use of rare cannabinoids like CBG and CBN to increase appetite. Limited evidence from clinical studies has also supported the use of pharmaceutical cannabinoids to stimulate appetite in HIV/AIDS patients. Learn more about the science behind the munchies here.
While the munchies effect can be positive for patients with certain conditions, such as anorexia and cachexia, other consumers often find the cravings brought on by cannabis to be problematic. If you find yourself falling prey to unhealthy snacks while you’re high, read on for some easy ways to fight the munchies.
How to Prevent the Munchies
Whether you’re actively dieting, cutting back your grocery budget, or simply being mindful of what you’re putting in your body, craving Twinkies after your 9 p.m. joint is less than ideal. When willpower isn’t quite doing the trick, try one of these methods.
Eat Regularly and Hydrate Throughout the Day
Staying hydrated and well-nourished is essential for everyone’s overall health. For those who consume cannabis, drinking plenty of water and eating sufficiently throughout the day could also help to prevent the munchies. To stay sufficiently hydrated, there is no longer a universal recommendation for everyone according to the CDC. It depends on your biological sex, age, pregnancy status, level of physical activity, illness, and other environmental factors, like how hot it is in your area.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine currently recommends drinking almost 4 liters a day for men (15.5 cups) and almost 3 liters a day for women (11.5 cups). It is estimated that we already get about 20% of that daily fluid by eating food.
Eating smaller portions more frequently throughout the day is a great way to boost your metabolism and ensure your body is full so that you’re way less tempted to give in to the munchies when they hit. Try eating a light snack within minutes of waking up, followed by a light breakfast a couple of hours later. Repeat this pattern every few hours, and consider eating a small, healthy snack about an hour before bed.
It’s important to acknowledge that everyone has different lifestyles and dietary needs. Perhaps your schedule doesn’t allow for frequent meals, or you like integrating intermittent fasting into your day. The important thing is to ensure you’re taking in enough water and calories throughout the day to keep your body well-nourished. The better satisfied you are through good nutrition (e.g., fibrous, low sugar, nutritious foods), the less likely you are to be consumed by the munchies.
Pick a Strain to Help Avoid Munchies
The type of cannabis you consume can play a major role in whether or not you experience munchies post-consumption. Because THC is the main culprit when it comes to increased appetite, strains that are high in THC will lead to more noticeable munchies. Different strains that are high in cannabinoids like CBD and THCV can either have little effect on the appetite or even reduce it.
Strains with high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) have been shown to suppress the appetite rather than increase it due to how THCV interacts with receptors in the endocannabinoid system and likely other anti-obesity receptors outside the endocannabinoid system, like serotonin, TRP, and GPR. Thus, consuming THCV-rich strains is a great way to stop weight gain by decreasing appetite.
Here are some of the most common strains of cannabis that contain THCV:
- Durban Poison
- Jack the Ripper
- God’s Green Crack
- Girl Scout Cookies
- Doug’s Varin
- Pineapple Purps
- Malawi Gold
- Power Plant
- Willie Nelson
Check out these articles for more munchie-fighting strains:
If your local dispensary doesn’t carry any of these strains, ask your budtender if they can point you to any strains high in THCV or CBD.
Improve Lifestyle Habits
Perhaps one of the best ways to prevent the munchies is to simply take care of yourself. This means getting enough sleep each night (7+ hours with good “sleep hygiene”), exercising regularly, giving yourself rest when you’re feeling burnt out, and tending to your mental health. When your body feels properly cared for, you will be less susceptible to cannabis-induced junk food cravings.
The good news is that cannabis can actually help with improving lifestyle habits if consumed carefully and intentionally. Cannabis has the potential to promote sleep, enhance spirituality, ease stress and anxiety, and complement workouts. Consider microdosing cannabis to amplify activities without becoming overly intoxicated.
Stick to Low-Calorie, Low-Sugar, High-Fiber, and Nutritious Snacks
No matter what you do to try and stop them, the munchies may still come for you—but that doesn’t mean you have to grab ice cream or the closest bag of chips. Instead, keep healthy foods on hand that will fill you up and prevent overeating.
Try one of these:
- Fresh berries and whipped cream
- Hummus with pita chips or veggies
- Rice cakes with peanut butter and banana
- Trail mix
- Protein bars
- Oven-baked sweet potato fries
The key to managing the munchies is moderation and good nutrition, as THC can make it seem like your stomach is bottomless. Your best bet is to set aside your chosen snack before getting high and remind yourself that the munchies are in your head when you feel tempted to go back and raid the pantry for more.
Try to avoid excess sugars, as they can be very addicting and easily add calories. Snacks like these that are high in fiber can leave you feeling fuller for longer. Clean (pure, unprocessed) and organic foods are also preferred whenever possible.
Head to this article for more munchie inspo: 12 Simple and Healthy Snacks Guaranteed to Satisfy the Munchies
Consuming THC can bring on side effects, one of the most prevalent being the munchies. While it may be hard to banish them entirely, munchies don’t have to overpower you every time you consume. By taking some simple steps, such as drinking lots of water, choosing your strain carefully, and caring for your physical and mental health, you can stop the munchies in their tracks.
If you still have concerns about the munchies, sign up for a consultation with a cannabis coach to discuss them in-depth.
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