Cannabis can increase appetite—a side effect you probably know as “the munchies.” Specifically, the munchies usually refer to a strong desire for salty, sweet or fatty carb-rich foods along with feeling like you just can’t get enough of whatever’s in front of you. While the munchies are commonly considered a humorous aspect of cannabis consumption, they’re a very real issue for those who take cannabis for medicinal reasons and/or who want to stay healthy.
Those late-night fast-food runs or trips to the convenience store for chips and candy aren’t great for your health (or your waistline). So, how do you stay healthy when you get the munchies? The answer is indulging instead in some mouth-watering fare that isn’t loaded with sugars, trans fats and other unhealthy ingredients.
What Makes a Great Munchie Snack?
Let’s first get down to the fundamentals of what the munchies are and how they can become a problem.
Cannabis can lower our inhibitions and even serve as an appetite stimulant—which is beneficial for individuals with illnesses that suppress hunger and cause them to lose too much weight. The problem, however, is that lowered inhibitions mean we’re more likely to satisfy our appetites with a pint of ice cream or a bag of potato chips, rather than a healthy, balanced snack.
As CNN points out, the risk with giving in to our appetite for sugary foods is that sugary foods aren’t actually satiating. In fact, junk food changes our brain chemistry and tricks us into consuming more food than we actually need.
Indeed, obesity is already a significant societal issue. Even worse, many people consuming marijuana for medical reasons may also have health conditions, such as diabetes, or be taking medication that requires them to eat as healthy as possible. The challenge with the munchies is ensuring you’re able to satisfy your appetite, while still keeping things quick, simple and nutritious.
So, the next time you get a post-marijuana craving for greasy burgers and fries, try one of these healthier alternatives instead.
1. Healthy Nachos Can Satisfy a Post-Cannabis Salt Craving
That’s right. Nachos are a delicious snack that, when done right, can also be healthy. Just remember to choose multigrain or whole-wheat tortilla chips that are oven baked. Arrange your tortilla chips on a metal tray covered in tinfoil and then add some cheddar, jalapeños, scallions, olives and salsa. Finally, put your tray in the oven at 350 degrees F for five minutes or so. When the cheese is fully melted, you’ve got yourself the perfect munchie snack, which is far more satiating than that boring bag of chips you were eyeing anyway.
2. Nuts Provide Healthy Fats With That Satisfying Crunch
How much easier does snacking get than a bag of nuts? Nuts are a great source of fiber, vitamin B6 and omega fatty acids. Nuts have also been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce blood pressure. While nuts are often high in fat, this is usually the unsaturated kind, which is healthy fat.
You can also try pan-roasting almonds with lime and cilantro to make things a little more interesting. One more tip: Use either unsalted or lightly salted nuts to cut down on your sodium intake and make this a more heart-healthy option.
3. Fruit, Nature’s Candy, Is a Healthy Way to Deal With the Munchies
Fruit is as sweet and easy as candy, but without any of the less-than-healthy ingredients that are often packed into processed confections. Many fruits are a great source of vitamin C, which can help fight off diseases.
Have a big bowl of fruit prepared before you consume cannabis. This way, you won’t fall into the trap of thinking that heading to the corner store is easier than cutting up some delicious fruit.
Dried fruits are another great choice that require no prep work, though make sure you get the kind without added sugar, oil and preservatives.
4. Popcorn Can Be a Nutritious Snack After a Cannabis Session
Popcorn doesn’t have the best reputation health-wise since the kind sold at cinemas or prepackaged in supermarkets can be lathered in butter, oil and sugar. In other words, all the stuff you want to avoid.
But plain popcorn is healthy and includes loads of antioxidants, few calories and hardly any fat. Avoid the microwaveable varieties, and instead stick to wholegrain kernels, cooked using the good old-fashioned stove and pan method. Ditch the table salt and butter and opt for healthy seasonings, like paprika, Sriracha, truffle oil or parsley.
5. If You’re Fiending for Chocolate After Consuming Marijuana, Go With Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate tastes so good, it feels like it must be bad for you. But the fact is, chocolate with a high cocoa content (above 70%) is nutritious. Dark chocolate is full of:
It also has plenty of healthy fats and hardly any of the unhealthy ones. Dark chocolate has also been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
While the munchies may be a fact of life for many cannabis consumers, it doesn’t mean you need to rely on ice cream, potato chips or sugary candies. The above snacks offer great alternatives to conquering the munchies while also treating your body well.
Photo credit: Brooke Lark