One of the reasons cannabis consumers often gravitate toward junk food is because weed “hijacks the parts of your brain that make you seek pleasure,” according to one dietician.
“Wellness” is the latest buzzword in town when it comes to the marijuana-munchie movement. The cannabis community wants America to know, or at least it wants it to think, that instead of scarfing down fast food and Little Debbies whenever it comes time to tame the ravenous appetite that often comes with getting high, they are grabbing fruits and vegetables instead. It’s all part of the new-and-improved stoner image 2.0. But are marijuana users really opting for healthier food choices when those high hunger pangs set in? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
If we look at some of the latest research on the matter, it is easy to see that all of this talk about wellness, healthier munchies and the brand-spanking new pulse of the lifted lifestyle might not be real.
A 2015 study published in the journal Social Science Research Network finds that junk food sales have increased by around 2% in states where marijuana is legal. Of course, this is not a huge uptick or anything, especially when compared to the 1.3% increase in areas of prohibition. But it does show that high fat, sugary foods still have a shot at becoming a stoner staple in areas of the United States where marijuana consumption is now part of normal society.
The munchies is one of the most popular side effects of cannabis. Dietary experts, like Debbie Petitpain, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said the reason cannabis consumers often gravitate toward junk food is because weed “hijacks the parts of your brain that make you seek pleasure.” In turn, these people are more likely to grab salty and sweet snacks to satisfy high hunger.
It also doesn’t help matters that marijuana causes a heightened sense of smell and taste. This only compounds the plate-punishing destruction, encouraging high timers to eat more, Petitpain said in an interview with the Boston Herald.
Other studies on the subject of the marijuana munchies show that, in spite of all the jibber-jabber about health and wellness in the cannabis community, most cannabis users still want junk food when they are stoned.
Researchers from the University of Buffalo found that two-thirds of marijuana users are still going to pick junk food when given a choice between that and a healthier option. They are concerned about the nutritional impact widespread marijuana legalization is going to have on the population.
“Given the dramatic increase in the accessibility of cannabis, there will be many more people experiencing the munchies,” said lead study author Jessica Kruger. “Public health has the responsibility of protecting the public, maximizing benefits and minimizing harm in any area. “We need more research and education on people who choose to use cannabis, moving public health from an abstinence-promotion model to a harm reduction model. This would include managing the dietary impact of cannabis use.”
But marijuana users must take responsibility for their own diet. And it’s not like people weren’t consuming junk food with rabid enthusiasm before weed started going legal across the country. The American population, stoned or otherwise, has been on the fast track to fat ass for decades. More than one-third of the U.S. population is now obese. Still, in some ways, the situation is improving. The wellness trend is gaining momentum worldwide, forcing more food companies to offer healthier selections on their menus.
But, as with anything, it’s up to the individual to decide which way to go.