Everyone knows and jokes about one of marijuana’s most famous side-effects – the munchies. But while many of us have experienced this effect first hand (usually emerging from a hungry haze, surrounded by empty food containers and covered with crumbs), few understand why it happens. So, what causes the munchies?

While many aspects of the why’s behind marijuana are still a mystery, it turns out that science more or less has this one figured out.

What Causes the Munchies

Most of the varied effects of cannabis are caused by compounds contained in the plant called “cannabinoids”. At the same time, our bodies create similar compounds called “endocannabinoids”, which help regulate our hormones and metabolism.

Research has shown that when the main cannabinoid in marijuana – the famous THC – mixes with our endocannabinoids, it activates them and causes them to release hormones like leptin, which controls our sensations relating to hunger and decreases our ability to recognize satiety, which tricks our bodies into feeling hungry, even if we’re full.

This reaction also pushes us to crave high calorie, high fat foods as our bodies think we’re literally starving to death. That’s why no one ever gets the munchies for salad. Our bodies think we’re dying, so they demand something that will give a fast blast of energy.

At the same time, researchers have found that cannabis has a tendency to boost our senses of smell and taste, which can cause foods to smell and taste extra delicious.

Most stoners elect to run with this sensation and gorge themselves to – and beyond – their stomach’s content, but if you’re looking to minimize the impact of the munchies to control you’re eating, here are a few tips:

Get the right strain

Strains that are particularly high in CBD and a lesser-known cannabinoid called THCV tend to cause less hunger.

Don’t keep bad food around

If it’s not there, you can’t eat it.

Stock up on flavorful good stuff

Keep your kitchen stocked with foods that are healthy but flavorful so that when you do get a craving, you can satisfy it with something good for you.