Healthy Snacks to Satisfy the Toughest Munchies
October 13, 2022
Whether you’re a routine medical marijuana patient or new to recreational marijuana, you’ve probably realized that those infamous munchies are no myth. Despite all your best efforts, you just can’t shake the need to snack after consuming your edible, flower, or concentrate.
What is it about marijuana that makes us want to munch…and what can you do about it?
The THC-Tummy Connection
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most active ingredient in marijuana. THC interacts with receptors in the body’s central nervous and endocannabinoid systems, influencing the parts of the brain that regulate functions like energy balance, hunger and appetite, and emotions associated with satisfaction. Our brains and bodies already naturally produce their own endocannabinoids to fit into these receptors controlling everything from sleep, metabolism, mood, and stress to liver function and pain tolerance; THC just mimics their activity.
There are two endocannabinoid system receptors in particular—Cannabinoid type 1 (CB-1) in the nervous system and Cannabinoid type 2 (CB-2) in the immune and peripheral nervous system—that are especially responsive to THC stimulation. THC activates these receptors in the hypothalamus, dopamine pathway, and olfactory system, making them think you’re hungry even if you aren’t and releasing additional dopamine when you eat, which enhances the pleasure of eating.
By manipulating the same pathways our brains use for normal sense regulation—including taste and smell, which are closely related—THC recreates the sensations we experience when we’re deprived of food, such hunger (caused by the release of the hormone ghrelin), increased sensitivity of smell, more acute taste, and increased dopamine in the presence of food. THC essentially convinces our brain that we’re starving, and our body follows. Then, when we eat the high-calorie fats, salts, and sugars our brains already crave—which produce a dopamine effect all their own—we get a double-dose of the feel-good stuff, which is why the snacks accompanying your marijuana may possibly be the best thing you ever ate.
For some people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes, such as cancer or chemotherapy patients experiencing reduced appetites, the enthusiasm to eat can be a good thing. For other people, the marijuana munchies simply mean more caloric intake, ruining diets and leading to other more serious weight-related health problems.
Consuming marijuana doesn’t have to lead to extra pounds. Here are 6 tips to help make sure your marijuana use is improving your wellbeing, not increasing your waistline.
Be selective about what you smoke. (Or eat.)
Strains with higher THC levels tend to be associated with the munchies, so consider a strain that has a higher CBD level or at least less than 0.3% THC. (Unlike THC, CBD has not been shown to increase appetite or impact hunger.)
And remember that your method of consumption will affect the effect—differences in potency and rate of absorption, as well as whether you smoke or ingest can influence the type and intensity of your cravings. You can talk to your local dispensary about finding the right concentration of THC and what works best for you.
The best type of healthy snacks are ones that can do it all: they can satisfy both your sweet and your salty cravings, they’ve got a crunch or a dip, and they’re easy to eat (and make). Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Trail mix
- Raw veggies
- Dips like hummus or that are made with Greek yogurt
- Whole-grain crackers
- Tortilla chips with salsa
- Rice cakes with peanut butter or nut butter
- Veggie chips
- Frozen fruit pops
Fire Up the Air Fryer
An air fryer is a great way to make your favorite fried food a little healthier or give your ultra-healthy foods (i.e., vegetables) the crunch of a fried food without the fat. Try throwing cauliflower, green beans, sweet potato fries, or chickpeas into your air fryer instead of cooking them or eating them raw, and cook things like chicken wings with less mess.
Make Simple Substitutions
Sometimes a simple substitution or healthier swap can cut the calories of your favorite food in half, so you can enjoy all the pleasure without putting on the pounds. Make your grilled cheese with low-fat cheese and whole wheat bread, your PB and J with sugar-free jelly, or your burger with a veggie patty. It might not seem like much, but when you’re in the middle of the munchies, every little bit helps.
Here are some other ideas for getting more of your fix with a few less calories.
- If you’re craving pizza, try it with a cauliflower crust and skip the greasy meat toppings for veggie.
- Tacos? Go for turkey or meatless all together, with black beans or tofu.
- Baked or veggie chips are just as crunchy and satisfying as their regular counterparts, but without all bad fats.
- Screaming for ice cream? Today’s low-calorie or no-sugar options can be just as satisfying, as can frozen yogurt bars.
- Try vegan or meatless chicken nuggets if your noshing feels a little nostalgic.
- Visit your frozen food section for healthier versions of your favorite snacky foods and stock up, so you’ll always have easy-to-make options on hand.
Practice with portions
We get it—sometimes there’s that snack you just have to have. It’s better to acknowledge that than make it off limits. You can have your cake and eat it too—just make sure it’s properly portioned. Look for pre-packaged options of your favorite foods, or go ahead and set out one serving. Then put the rest away—and preferably inaccessible.
Keep it real
Yeah, this all sounds great, right? But as any pro will tell you, the key to healthy, mindful munching is to prep and plan in advance because when those cravings strike, there’s definitely no compromising.
Here are a few final tips you can do before you relax that can make a big difference in how you snack.
- Be sure to eat a healthy, filling meal beforehand to keep real hunger at bay, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and feel full.
- Don’t play games with your psychology–plan to snack instead of pretending like you won’t, because avoiding it or denying yourself will likely only make your cravings worse and send you into a snacking tailspin.
- Keep unhealthy junk snacks out of sight or out of your kitchen completely. (Is that value-sized bag of pizza rolls in your freezer really doing you any favors?)
Freedom Road: Your Destination for Premium Medical and Recreational Marijuana
No matter whether you’re consuming marijuana for medicinal purposes or simply for recreation, the experts at Freedom Road can help you select the product that’s right for you and manage the munchies that might come along with it. We’re a certified, full-service dispensary and grow house dedicated to helping our customers create the best experience possible, and we’re here to help you on your journey to freedom. Visit us at one of our two Trinidad, Colorado, locations or in the heart of Oklahoma City to find out more.