There’s a growing body of research linking cannabis use to lower overall weight or a healthier BMI, which is surprising for many, considering the generally accepted appetite-inducing properties of cannabis.

 The causal link is poorly understood at this point, though I’d be comfortable speculating that it has more to do with cannabis users simply feeling better and being happier, and hence not overeating for emotional reasons, as opposed to some specific change in body chemistry caused by cannabis use that causes you to stay slimmer.

 Regular cannabis users also generally consume less alcohol than a lot of their peers, which I suspect plays a significant role as well.

 I have another pet theory. For myself and most chronic users, after a long enough time, most of the side effects of cannabis use subside and almost slingshot back in the other direction. Our eyes don’t get red anymore, we don’t fall asleep after every joint, and the “munchies” don’t really happen. In fact, a long enough duration of cannabis use causes a suppressed appetite when you haven’t been using.

 Naturally, many of us go through long periods where we can’t use, whether it be work, a social event, or taking a break for any reason. So, for a chronic user, once they’re past the “munchies” stage, they’re actually regularly using an appetite suppressant in a sense. They can turn their hunger on and off at their own convenience, a huge advantage in dieting, explaining the lower BMIs of chronic cannabis users.

 Bottom line, it’s more than possible to integrate cannabis use into a healthy diet. It may even be beneficial for many people.

 I’ve spent years trying to get my eating right as a cannabis user, and I think there are a couple of things to consider, but one general point is this: Listen to your body! I cannot stress that enough. My breakthrough with food was not listening to a single piece of expert advice and creating a diet based purely on how it made me feel. There’s absolutely bizarre diets out there working for people (See- Herschel Walker).

 Most of the chatter and problems people have are basically about the “munchies.” This is certainly a problem for casual and younger users. It’s hard for me to remember now, but I recall craving chocolate when I was first getting high the way you’d crave water after a couple weeks stranded at sea. It’s a real thing, and if you’re baked out of your mind and get presented with a bowl of Doritos, you’re almost certainly waking up with a tummy ache and orange fingers.

 Not much you can do at that point, but you can probably avoid that situation before it happens.

 Eat before you get high. This should be fairly obvious, but if you blaze on an empty stomach within striking range of a McDonald’s or 7-11, that might not work out. And as any good stoner knows, you definitely get “higher” on a full stomach. Make sure you have a solid meal in you before you smoke and you’ll have a fighting chance.

 Eliminate bad options. If you have a problem with this stuff, make sure not to have junk food lying around the house all the time. I’m wading into general dieting advice, but it’s a bad idea to have your cupboard or freezer full of easy-to-make garbage. For the rookie user, nine times out of ten when you’re high, you’ll take the easy way out instead of eating something healthy that might take a minute or two to prepare. Slice up some pineapple or watermelon in advance, or whatever healthy snack you enjoy, and leave that as your only option.

 Keep your meals small. Again, I’m starting to give basic dieting advice, but this is magnified with cannabis use. Anything over 500 calories for the inexperienced or casual user is probably going to cause some drowsiness. This can actually work in your favor if you need to relax and get to sleep at night after a crazy day, but if you’re using in the daytime, eat frequent but very small snacks. Leave anything heavy for the end of the day if possible. For more regular users who are having overeating issues and think cannabis use is to blame, I would suggest that cannabis use is probably involved, but in the sense that it’s being used as an excuse for bad behavior. There’s little to suggest, either anecdotally or scientifically, that it should be a significant issue for anyone who uses regularly.

 My heart goes out to those struggling with weight and body image issues. It’s an extremely difficult hole to climb out of. But when we’re in that state, our ego is desperately searching for things to blame other than ourselves. And the “munchies” are a perfect excuse to overeat. This leads into the age-old debate regarding most perceived negative consequences of cannabis use. Does cannabis cause people to be lazy and make bad decisions, or are people who are naturally inclined toward laziness and bad decisions gravitating to a lifestyle and community that seems to justify such behaviors?

 Based on the high level of functionality some users have, I suspect it’s the latter.

 I can also offer one additional simple point to do with cannabis use and a healthy diet that applies to both new and experienced users: try to get away from the community’s obsession with sugar. Whether it’s the consistent association of cannabis with things like Slurpees and five-cent candies, or the fact that it seems every edible needs to contain at least 50 grams of the stuff, the association with sugar and cannabis culture is undeniable and needs to stop.

 Yes, sugar tastes good, and even more so if you’re really high. But it also makes you fat, lazy, and stupid and generally makes you feel like shit. I truly believe the association is so strong that sugar abuse while high is actually responsible for a large portion of the negative mental and physical effects some people report from cannabis use, and thus most of the commonly accepted stereotypes.

 I used to watch some of my dispensary staff sit around, eating donuts for breakfast and drinking pop all day, and then they’d complain how tired they were and that whatever we smoked that morning must have been a “burnout strain.” Unless your diet is solid, you’ll never actually know what cannabis is and isn’t doing to you.

 In general, I don’t think there’s a specific formula of cannabis use and dieting that people should follow; however, I have heard of such diets and programs, and some people claim success, so who am I to say? Aside from any specific program, there’s a lot of people who report being healthier and losing weight after they started using and whose weight ballooned after they stopped.

 The most beneficial aspect for me is that cannabis use simply makes me feel better, and thus improves my overall quality of life. Though it can be used as a tool by some people, eating right comes down to personal responsibility and discipline, whether or not you use cannabis. Any diet or program, even one centered around cannabis use, is limited in the sense that it still boils down to you making good decisions.

 Don’t tell yourself that you need cannabis or anything else to eat healthy; all you need is determination, hard work, and self-control. If using cannabis helps you with that, great. If you truly believe it doesn’t help, it’s time to quit or suffer the consequences. But it would be a shame for people that love cannabis to quit before they cleaned up their diet, never knowing if they could have kept using while feeling and looking like a million bucks. Regardless of what you may think, the idea that the “munchies” are stronger than you are is laughable.