Does Smoking Pot Cause an Obsession with Food?

By November 23, 2012

I am a 21 year old student (currently studying abroad) and I think I struggle with an ENDOS related problem, as I constantly think about what food I am going to eat and plan my days and activities around food, coupled with the fact that if I don’t work out five times a week I feel badly about myself. I have lost more than 20 pounds in the last two years, through sensible dieting habits (weight watchers) and am happy with the results, but I fear immensely gaining the weight back. I was wondering if this could have stemmed from my involvement with marijuana, because before I came abroad I smoked just about every day and proceeded to get the munchies and eat pretty much as I pleased. That was the same time I decided to take up running and ran about 5 miles a day so I wasn’t so worried about gaining weight from my high munchies. Now that I am studying abroad, I do not smoke very often and when I do I try to plan ahead and save some of what I am going to eat for that time. I also struggle with not eating a lot during the day sometimes because I never know if I am going to go out drinking at night, another factor of being abroad. Do you think that smoking pot for awhile and then giving it up has caused this obsession with food, and do you have any suggestions for what I should do? Also, do you think being abroad has played a factor and things will get better when I get home? – L

Dear L,

We are so glad you are a visitor to FINDINGbalance and that you have asked your questions. Here are my thoughts in response to your concerns. Of course, many different things can trigger disordered eating. Anything that alters our decision making abilities and/or moods can cloud our best judgment and disrupt our appetite. It sounds like your involvement with marijuana did not help you to make the best choices about food. There may be other factors, as well.

For example, anytime we postpone or delay eating much during the day (as you stated you are doing), we are setting ourselves up for overeating later in the day. In the field of eating disorders, this is called “deprivation sensitivity.” Our natural appetites resist being deprived during the day. Then we are more likely to eat too much later. This is especially true if we use substances that lower our inhibitions, like alcohol and marijuana. A self-destructive cycle usually results, and then we feel rotten about ourselves. So, we try to deprive more or to compensate with dangerous behaviors like over-exercise. Excessive exercise makes us too hungry and, of course, can have many medical complications as well.

I’m so sad for you that you are “constantly thinking about food” and exercise. There are so many more rewarding things to think about…like the joys of studying abroad! You could also be thinking about how talented, unique and capable you are! It sounds as though you are really good at analyzing things and setting new goals.

Yes, research shows that habits are easier to change when we change our environment. Perhaps, you could begin to practice more balanced patterns of eating now. It might be a little easier to maintain these changes when you return home. A trained nutrition therapist and counselor can help immensely. See “Finding Treatment.”

We know it is not easy to change. You have our prayers and support. Please continue to use Fb as a link to help and positive change.