Dear Mother,

Why does pot give you the munchies? I like to smoke but I hate feeling so hungry afterward! Is there a way to prevent the munchies? I don't want to gain so much weight just because I like to puff.

— Hungry


Dear Hungry Friend,

The munchies—feeling hungry after smoking cannabis—is a real phenomenon, for sure. Let's take a look at what actually causes it, how to possibly avoid it, and how to work around it.

The quick and easy answer is that marijuana is a natural stimulant for your insides. THC has been shown to heighten taste and smell—two senses intrinsically connected to eating, and this leads to an increased desire to chow down. In addition, cannabis is also connected with increased dopamine production, a chemical that is also released when you eat. When you combine these two phenomenons, it's no wonder you might get the munchies after taking a few rips from your bong!

And in fact, it's this specific side effect that has been incredibly useful for those taking medicinal cannabis for appetite stimulation. Cancer patients going through chemo or folks struggling with eating disorders can find real benefits from hunger-inducing strains. Because yes, some strains tend to give you the munchies over other ones!

So, if you're looking to avoid the munchies altogether, you may want to steer clear of strains that are Indica dominant that might increase your hunger. That said, every strain truly is different and everybody is different. What might affect you in one way, might affect somebody else differently. For instance, both you and your friend might share a bowl of Girl Scout Cookies—the strain, not the delicious dessert!—and you might be totally fine afterward while your friend is scavenging through the cabinets for a sleeve of Thin Mints to devour.

On the flip side, there are actually some strains that not only won't give you the munchies, but will actually suppress your appetite! You may not be looking to lose weight, but if you want to ensure that the strain you’re smoking definitely won’t have you reaching for the chips, check out ones with a high count of THVC and cannabidiol. Both are compounds found in marijuana that have been shown to have an appetite-suppressing effect and cause you to lose some weight!

If you have some favorite strains that you’re just unwilling to part with, no matter how hungry they may make you, I have a few suggestions on how to handle the munchies in a healthy manner. (This is where the whole being a mom thing comes in handy!)

When you feel the munchies coming on, grab something to drink first. Pour a glass of water, hot cocoa or tea, anything really. See if that satiates you. If it doesn’t, then go for the snacks, but instead of the usual cheese doodles or cookies or fast food classics, why not have a few healthy snacks on hand that will fill you up without leaving you coated in fake neon orange “cheeze” dust? Some of my favorite snacks include frozen grapes, cut up carrots with hummus, chips and salsa/guacamole, and juice or yogurt popsicles. A mix of salty and sweet usually works for me!

From avoiding the munchies to finding ways to assuage it, hopefully I’ve helped you find your way, my hungry friend!

— Mother