Ahh, the notorious “munchies.” You've enjoyed your cannabis... a little time passes... when suddenly, without fail... you have a hankering for FOOD. Before we discuss how to handle that tsunami-grade wave of hunger—and the chow-down that often follows—let’s look at why our post-cannabis cravings are so strong.
Munchie messages, received!
What causes the munchies anyhow? If you guessed that it has something to do with our endocannabinoid system, you’re right! Before we get into it, do note that you should always consult your trusted medical care provider before taking cannabis for any particular reason. This includes trying to gain or lose weight!
According to available studies, our body’s endocannabinoid system is filled with various types of cannabinoid receptors, with the one we call CB1 being the most prevalent. We find CB1 receptors in multiple places, including in our brain, and in our digestive system. These studies suggest that when cannabinoids—like THC, CBD or CBG—bind with those receptors, a whole host of actions are triggered. THC, for instance, promotes the excretion of the hormone ghrelin when it binds with CB1. Ghrelin is generally known to be responsible for stimulating your appetite and signaling your digestive system to work faster. Normally, it’s released when your body is in actual need of food. Yet when cannabis consumption is the trigger, you are likely to feel hungry regardless of what your body needs! And so: you munch. And munch... and munch. Because, wow, does that food taste extra good! Thanks, ghrelin.
Side-effect vs. desired effect
For many medical cannabis patients, appetite stimulation isn’t a side-effect of their medication; it’s the desired effect. For someone experiencing nausea, or someone who could benefit from weight-gain, the munchies can be considered a good thing. For the rest of us, the munchies are something we need to manage.
When the munchies strike, here are four healthy habits you can incorporate into your cannabis routine.
1) Choices count
No matter if you’re in need of an appetite-boost or not, what we munch on is key. Aim for naturally sweet whole foods and recipes. Just a few ideas are:
While healthy choices are important, let's be realistic: we all like to (read: we WILL) indulge from time to time. The key is not to indulge EVERY time. Enjoy the sweet, fried, and carb-heavy foods in moderation. Keeping non-processed, whole food choices at the ready will help!
2) Plan ahead
By the time you’re mid-craving, the tendency is to grab the first thing that looks good. Do a favor for your future self! Prep your healthy snack before you consume your cannabis and leave it front-and-center in your fridge. When you want to eat all the things, you’ll be more likely to stop yourself and go for the “better” choice. Convenience is where it’s at.
3) Portion control
Studies have shown that we believe food portions are more plentiful when served on a smaller plate vs a large one. By using a smaller plate, you may be inclined to take a more appropriate portion of food. And if you’re the type of person who eats straight out of the carton, box or bag.... a small plate or bowl is a wonderful habit to develop!
Do you savor your food, or do you shovel it? Using smaller utensils (or even chopsticks!) will slow you down, encouraging you to eat more slowly and intentionally, which may help avoid over-eating.
The benefits of good hydration are three-fold. First off, our bodies always need water to operate smoothly. Water encourages healthy nutrient distribution and flushes out unwanted toxins. The recommended daily intake for an average adult is eight, 8-ounce glasses of water. That’s a lot!
When consuming cannabis, drinking ample water before, during and after will help curb the often-undesirable side-effect of cotton mouth. While it may not prevent it completely, being well-hydrated improves your chances of avoiding the sensation that you’ve just eaten a jar of dry peanut butter.
Here’s a fun fact: Some studies suggest those who drink 2 glasses of water before a meal eat 22% less. So, drink up, and you may cut down on mindless munching. Find water too boring? Jazz it up with muddled mint and cucumber, opt for sparkling water, or steep a few herbal tea bags in a chilled pitcher. There are lots of way to up the enticement level while keeping the calories down.
If managing the munchies is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, we hope these four tips help you reach your wellness goals.