People use cannabis for many different reasons. No matter what your reason, you may have noticed an interesting side effect: you suddenly become incredibly hungry. Known as “the munchies,” cannabis can trigger your appetite, leaving you raiding your pantry for snacks. But why does weed make you hungry? Here’s what you need to know.

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What In Cannabis Causes Hunger?

Answering why does weed make you hungry relies on science. When your body senses a deficit in energy stores, it releases a hormone called ghrelin. The hormone stimulates your hypothalamus, which then lets you know that you’re hungry.

When you introduce cannabis to your system, you introduce numerous cannabinoids, including THC. THC does a few things to trigger hunger. First, it heightens your senses of smell and taste, as well as your appetite. When things smell and taste better, you’re more likely to feel hungry. The other thing that THC does is “flip the script” in your hypothalamus. Even if you’re not hungry when you start smoking, it tricks the organ into thinking you are.

Why You Crave Junk Food

Often, it seems that cannabis makes you crave junk food. There are a couple of reasons for this. Since your body believes you’re starving, it seeks high-calorie foods to provide the energy it believes you need. The attachment of THC to your CB1 receptors also enhances the taste of sugar (but seems to have little effect on other tastes), which may partly explain why you opt for foods high in sugar.

It’s Not Always a Bad Thing

For some, getting the munchies can be a problem. Even if you don’t want to, you might find yourself eating chips, cookies, or any other junk food you have in your home. Or you might call for a pizza or other unhealthy (but delicious) food. The extra calories could become an issue.

Getting the munchies, however, isn’t always a bad thing. Some people, however, have stomach issues or other complications that make eating difficult, such as wasting syndrome or anorexia. For these people, the appetite-stimulating properties of cannabis can help them to feel hungry and enable them to eat.

Can You Avoid Getting Hungry When Using Cannabis?

If you want to avoid getting the munchies when you’re enjoying your cannabis session, there are a few things you can do ahead of time to combat it. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Eat well throughout the day before you begin
  • Drink plenty of water (and keep water on hand)
  • Distract yourself
  • Consider a strain that’s higher in CBD to combat the effects of THC

Another option, especially if you’re looking to avoid consuming junk food, is to stock your home with healthier options (and keep them within range so you won’t have to go hunting for them later). Think vegetables, hummus, popcorn, or fresh fruit. These foods should satisfy your hunger without adding too many extra calories.

Answering Why Does Weed Make You Hungry

While it might seem unusual, cannabis can trigger hunger, causing you to suddenly feel like eating everything in your fridge or ordering from your favorite takeout spot. It’s a common side effect, but it doesn’t happen to everyone. And if you don’t want to experience it, there are things you can do to avoid it while still being able to enjoy your session.