The Munchies Manual: Why Do You Get Them, and Why Do You Secretly Love Them?

Ask a group of average adults what comes to mind when they think of marijuana, and we’d wager you’ll get “the munchies” as one of the top responses. It’s a classic, nearly iconic part of the stoner stereotype, and one that we think is ripe for reinvention.

Before thinking about how to modernize munchies, let’s start with the foundations of this phenomenon. If you don’t know what the munchies are, they’re the urge to eat that many people feel after consuming cannabis, and typically that urge is to eat the kinds of foods that break your everyday rules of self-control. Think deep-fried, crunchy, salty or sugar-coated, maybe even all of the above at once.

It’s probably not a surprise that, like much of cannabis culture, the munchies haven’t been rigorously studied by academics. Even the term “munchies” is of ambiguous origin, but we do recommend reading a debate about it that you can find here on Wikipedia, just for entertainment value.

In 2015, Tamas Horvath of the Yale School of Medicine published in a study in the journal Nature whose findings suggested that THC interacts with receptors in the brain that control satiety, thereby increasing your appetite. A separate study reported that THC consumption can pique your sense of smell, making foods more tempting and increasing your pleasure from eating. The combination of feeling less satiated and getting more pleasure from the foods you eat are the dangerous combination that often result in eating excessive volume and consuming foods you might normally turn down.

It’s worth noting that this is different than the boost in metabolism that cigarette smokers can experience. The munchies are an experience driven by your brain; they’re an increase in desire rather than faster digestion, which also means that they’re dangerous for those watching their waistlines. On the other hand, these same characteristics make the munchies a useful tool for those who need to stimulate their urge to eat. This is where cannabis is often incorporated into the lives of cancer patients, who lose their appetites during chemotherapy.

For the casual cannabis consumer, the munchies don’t have to be a Doritos-filled bonanza of diet-breaking regret. As the cultured adult you are, you can use them to your advantage. Take them as a tool to enhance the pleasure you get from what you eat, and make sure that your munchies are the kinds of foods that get you excited no matter what your state of mind. Poke bowl, anyone?

What are your go-to munchies? Don’t be embarrassed to share. Let us know by posting comments on our Facebook. And sign up for our newsletter to get more stories like this delivered to your inbox once a week.