Taking the Bite out of Munchies
You love the feeling of being high but you’re getting tired of eating everything in sight when you get stoned, what gives? What makes your body turn into a bottomless pit that craves peanut butter and junk food when you get high? How can you stop yourself from becoming the cookie monster when you take a puff?
Your body is a complex chemical communication system that attempts to maintain a state of homeostasis under changing conditions. The naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis interact with your endocannabinoid system – a primary homeostatic regulator. Unfortunately for all the late night snackers, one of the functions of your endocannabinoid system is to regulate hunger by letting you know when your body requires fuel.
THC is the main component of cannabis responsible for that surge in appetite you feel when you get high; this is unfortunate because it’s also the primary psychoactive (fun) component of cannabis. THC ups your food cravings through a few different mechanisms.
A 2014 study published in Nature Neuroscience found that THC interacts with CB1 receptors in your olfactory bulb; increasing our sensitivity to scents and flavours, allowing you to actually taste and smell food more efficiently. This increased smell and taste may seem like a superpower, but what this is doing is actually convincing your big dumb brain that it’s starving and requires sustenance in the form of the quick to metabolize cheap energy found in kinder eggs and other gas station delicacies.
Another mechanism of action with which THC stimulates your appetite is through an interaction with a region of your brain called the nucleus accumbens and the release dopamine – one of your naturally occurring hormones responsible for pleasure. A 2013 study published in Neuropharmacology found that stimulating the CB1 receptor in the nucleus accumbens enhanced the hedonic (pleasure) reaction to palatable food. This same study found that THC did not have an impact on your response to aversive tastes. You’re a hedonist and all you care about is that next dopamine hit.
Finally, a 2005 study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that THC acting on CB1 receptors in your hypothalamus stimulated AMPK – an enzyme responsible for appetite. This study also found that stimulation of the CB1 receptors in your peripheral nervous system may increase lipid (fat) storage. These findings taken together indicate that THC may be acting to simultaneously increase your appetite and fat storage; as someone who just learned this, I’m more motivated than ever to finish this blog.
These appetite inducing properties of cannabis can offer great medical benefits to those that struggle with appetite but for us recreational users that have no issues with appetite it can seem like a curse. You’ve now learned why cannabis makes you hungry and decided that giving up cannabis isn’t an option. How do you enjoy a cannabis friendly lifestyle without turning into Jabba the Hut? As with most things in life, moderation is the key. If you can set a snack limit and stay within it, all the power to you. Personally, my stoned alter ego is a savage and will eat anything in range so here are some of my tips.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it took me far too long to implement. If you don’t have the junk food around you won’t eat it, simple as that. You can stock up on healthier alternatives like club soda instead of pop/juice and vegetables instead of candy/chips. If you’re like me, you can put peanut butter on pretty much anything to immediately up your high satisfaction.
Your stoned activities are highly regulated by inertia, this means that whatever activity or mindset you are in at the time of getting stoned will likely continue while stoned. If you find yourself lumping on the couch it’s likely you will continue to do so, if you are active and distracted it’s likely you will continue these activities while stoned. Because of this inertia, it can be difficult to switch to a more motivated activity-centric mindset; but if you’re able to get past that initial hill, then the distraction can be a great way to forget about your body tricking itself into thinking that it’s starving. I’ve found the stoned backyard workouts to be a great distraction through summer 2020. If you can’t handle being in close proximity to your household snacks then get out for a walk or a jog, I promise a little exposure to nature will be much more interesting than what’s inside that box of Pop Tarts.
If you’re still concerned about excess snackage while high, you can always time it so that when the munchies kick in, you’re sitting down for a regularly scheduled meal. This way you get to benefit from the heightened taste and smell without adding an additional full meal to your day. You ever been for sushi when you’re stoned? I would highly recommend the experience.
I think all of you are amazing and you can do whatever you choose, if that involves munching out on an ice cream sandwich or a sleeve of saltines, then you earned it. These are just a couple ideas that help me cope with my munchies, if you have any more tips let me know.
Be kind to each other, appreciate yourself, and stay lifted.