The munchies are arguably the gnarliest side effect of cannabis consumption. Since the dawn of time, weed has been pushing people into kitchens, drive-thru’s, convenience store snack aisles, and everywhere else in between to tame the savage cravings that often emerge after getting stoned.
While a healthy appetite is always a good thing – it's what makes marijuana so beneficial to cancer patients struggling to eat – the food choices that stoners typically gravitate toward during these ravenous moments aren't exactly conducive to health.
Chips, cakes, fast food, pizza, and other high calorie processed crap cuisine is all part of a maniacal, fat-inducing marijuana munchie meal. All of which can cause obesity issues, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Eating Healthy on Weed?
There is supposedly a new school of stoners on the rise that are all about making healthier choices when the munchies kick in.
Reports surface from time to time suggesting that more cannabis users today are reaching for nutritious nibbles and steering clear of unhealthy eats. These weed-lovers are reportedly all about the wellness trend, grabbing fruits and vegetables instead of that double cheesy gordita burrito with a side of extra cheese and a sour cream chaser.
The rub of this research, specifically one from the University of Michigan, is that food choice is almost always contingent on lifestyle. Therefore, a fitness-minded cannabis consumer is more apt to grab a healthier option, while a junk-food junkie is more likely to make a run for the border.
Other studies suggest that the concept of the healthy stoner is a heaping load of BS. In fact, a probe in the journal of the International Society for Human Ethology finds that as marijuana legalization takes hold in more parts of the country, there will be an increased need for more nutritional education. Why? Well, according to the study authors, it’s all about harm reduction and preventing the millions of cannabis users in the United States from joining the ranks of the overweight.
Right now, 78 million American adults are living with obesity. The nation is the 12th fattest in the world. So, of course, choosing healthier munchies is undoubtedly an intelligent move – especially since recent reports show that junk food is killing more of us prematurely. But it doesn't seem realistic that everyone who consumes marijuana in this day and age is all of a sudden taking a stand against fatty fare and opting for a nice salad when the old stomach starts rumbling.
What Do Stoners Say?
The Bluntness set out to get to the bottom of all the reports surrounding healthy munchie madness, asking a slew of regular cannabis consumers about their stoned eating habits and whether or not they are grabbing nourishing food instead of unhealthy treats.
We found there seems to be a striking similarity in real life and the study from the University of Michigan that shows cannabis users are mostly inclined to select the foods they usually eat regardless of whether they're stoned.
One man we talked to named Edward, a 46-year-old who spends a few days in the gym each week but wouldn't call himself a fitness nut, says he stocks healthier options to keep his aging body in check.
"As long as I don't keep a bunch of garbage at the house, I won't eat it when I'm high," he said of his dietary strategy. "I still crave ice cream, but I never go out of my way to get it as long as there's none around."
This attitude of pothead preparedness in pursuit of refrigerator restraint was relatively steady throughout our interviews.
Most cannabis consumers appear to do all they can to be more health conscious when the munchies hit. This is done by some to fulfill a fitness-conscious lifestyle. Meanwhile, others have adopted this way of life to prevent the further decline of their health. "I'm borderline diabetic, and I go for healthier munchies," declared Bob, a 36-year-old from Ohio. "I don't want to be full-blown diabetic."
Still, some struggle. A woman named Dasha told us that she was having some success eating healthy despite being a 25-year-long, daily cannabis user. But her appetite for consumption is getting tougher to control.
"I am now finding it harder to maintain my healthy habits while using it," she said. "I'm not as young as I used to be, and the pounds are starting to add up."
Advice from a Health Professional
Striving to eat better is one thing. Doing it is another. It can be argued that this goes double for those with high hankerings. Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN, FAND, a Holistic Cannabis Practitioner at Jannabis Wellness and Program Director of Cannabinoid Medical Sciences at John Patrick University School of Integrative & Functional Medicine, works with patients all the time to manage their dietary needs.
She told The Bluntness that while science shows that cannabis users have lower BMIs than their non-consuming counterparts, the munchies can be challenging in maintaining a healthy weight. Cannabis promotes the release of a chemical called Ghrelin, which increases appetite. This makes the herb beneficial to patients fighting for proper nutrition. For the rest of us, however, this sneaky component makes it tough to stay strong during those red-eyed moments when we desperately want to devour every-stinking-thing in the pantry.
But never fear. All hope is not lost.
Bissex advises that ravenous reefer chiefers who constantly combat munchie mayhem should try strains higher in THCv (recommending Durban Poison, Doug's Varin, Girl Scout Cookies, and Dayslayer).
This compound, she asserts, has been shown to support satiety. "Animal studies have shown that THCv results in lower glucose intolerance and decreased food intake," Bissex said. "There are also over 100 terpenes in cannabis and one of them, humulene, may act as an appetite suppressant," she added.
Something that should be taken into consideration, though, is a lot of the unwanted calories that we consume when we’re high comes from ingesting sodas, sports drinks and alcoholic beverages.
Liquid, empty calories can be devastating to a diet. Preventing them from becoming problematic, however, may be as simple as staying hydrated. "Cannabis can be dehydrating and choosing high sugar beverages to quench that thirst will result in a lot of extra calories," Bissex counsels.
Take Care of Yourself
Listen, life is short. While we should have enough respect for ourselves to adopt a lifestyle that sends us sliding gracefully down the hill to our inevitable graves, remember there are things far worse than death.
Scarfing down sugary treats and processed foods may not kill us immediately, but there is peril and perhaps a colostomy bag in the forthcoming disease. Nobody wants to be strapped to a dialysis machine because they enjoyed a Little Debbie on more than one occasion and washed it down with a Mt. Dew.
Live your life, but don't forget to take care of yourself in the process. As far as we know, this body is all that we’re going to get.
"It's not what you occasionally indulge in that determines the quality of your diet, it's how you eat on a regular basis," Bissex said. "So, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, and beans, and don't worry about indulging once in a while, whether stoned or not."
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