The latest $50 buzz word reverberating throughout the cannabis community these days is wellness. Cannabis users are no longer just smoking for the sake of sinking into a head change that makes them giggle non-stop, they are medicating on a plant put here by God or aliens as part of a healthy lifestyle that is free of the dangerous grips of alcohol, fast food and other worldly pollutants.
And those days of catching a fiendish case of the munchies and then diving into all things burritos, pizza or any number of bizarre, mad science kitchen concoctions that the stoned brain can conjure up when that ravenous hunger sets in, well, that has changed too. We’ve since replaced that tasty, high-fat cuisine for fruits and veggies and, we’ve got to tell you, life is good. NO, no it’s not — we’re actually miserable, high and while we would like to believe that wellness is our focus these days, all bets are off the second we get stoned.
The reality is, while the cannabis landscape is changing, some aspects of this broadening monster, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise, are destined to stay the same. We can put on a new uniform and change the way we comb our hair — present ourselves in a way that goes against the grain of those nasty stoner stereotypes — but we cannot run, nor can we hide from the fact that smoking weed really does turn the average user into a junk food junkie.
This point was made recently during a marijuana legalization event in upstate New York. This is where a team of researchers from the University of Buffalo surveyed hundreds of people in an attempt to gauge which way they were most likely to go when the munchies kicked in: Health food or junk food.
To achieve this, they had the attendees (all of them high on marijuana) fill out cards detailing which kinds of foods they were most likely to consume while under the influence of the herb. And as a reward for participating in the survey, the respondents were allowed to select a food item on their way out the door. They could have either an orange or a bag of chips. Want to guess which was most popular?
Researchers found that in spite of all the chatter these days about wellness and healthy munchies, most marijuana users are still more likely to grab a bag of chips as opposed to fruit. Nearly two-thirds of the 275 people surveyed went for the junk food, while 32% opted for the orange. Interestingly, 7% didn’t select a food item at all, which has us wondering what their secret is?
The outcome of the study, which was published in the journal of the International Society for Human Ethology, suggests that, as we enter a time when marijuana legalization is taking hold in more parts of the country, there is an increased need for more nutritional education in order to prevent the millions of cannabis users in the United States from becoming overweight.
“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.”
Okay, okay, we get it — sometimes marijuana users don’t make the best dietary choices once the munchies take over. This is probably the reason the prospect of a CBD-burger from Carl’s Jr. is so appealing to some. But our love affair with diabolical foods doesn’t necessarily mean that all of us are on the path to becoming overweight slobs. In fact, a recent study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology finds that regular marijuana consumers are actually less likely to be obese than their non-using counterparts. While examining some 33,000 patients over the course of three years, researchers say that pot smokers just don’t seem to put on weight like those who abstain.
“We found that users, even those who just started, were more likely to be at a normal, healthier weight and stay at that weight,” Dr. Omayma Alshaarawy, co-author of the study and assistant professor of family medicine at Michigan State University, said in a statement. “Only 15 percent of persistent users were considered obese compared to 20 percent of non-users.”
Although researchers are not sure why cannabis use was linked to a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) there is speculation that weed creates some physical change in cells that helps moderate weight gain. Still, and this is important, researchers argue that marijuana users cannot expect to maintain that girlish figure by just smoking weed and eating whatever the hell they want. Sadly, that’s not going to work out. “People shouldn’t consider it as a way to maintain or even lose weight,” Alshaarawy said.
All in all, marijuana users are going to eat whatever they want to satisfy the munchies. Kruger says that the respondents who listed healthy foods on the survey did, in fact, opt for the orange, while those who listed junk food as their go-to grabbed the chips. There were no reports of people listing healthy food items, and then hypocritically gravitating toward deep fried, processed crap. So, it’s not that the wellness trend is a scam — it isn’t. Considering all of the horrid diseases (cancer and diabetes) that have been linked to the consumption of certain foods, we would like to believe that most people are striking a balance in their nutritional needs to keep themselves off the slab before it is time. But then again, there is just something about those late night Taco Bell runs that we’re not willing to give up. Life is too short not to appreciate the simple things, especially when it is just so much fun to say “Beefy Fritos” when you’re high.