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3 Sinister Reasons You're Addicted To Junk Food

Everybody wants to eat healthy! Eventually! When we, uh, finally get around to it! Come on, how hard can it really be to give up junk food?

About as easy as kicking heroin, it turns out. The garbage we cram into our bodies is every bit as addictive as any controlled substance, and food companies have been playing us as slobbering addicts for as long as we've been alive.

#3. Companies Already Think of You as a Junkie

While nobody ever binges on boiled carrots and Brussels sprouts, potato chips are described as the perfect addictive food -- essentially the nutritional equivalent of a speedball. Why? Because they were deliberately designed that way.

When you first pop a chip into your mouth, the coating of salt and fat light up the brain's pleasure centers like a Christmas tree. The starch in the potato causes the same glucose spike as sugar, but is absorbed into the bloodstream much more quickly. That spike then immediately dips, making you want another potato chip. You can just keep eating them, and because there's no real substance to them, your stomach never gets full. The reasoning behind the "you can't eat just one" mantra is pretty much the same reason you can't be a casual meth user.

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If you stare at these too long, "Born Slippy" starts playing subliminally in your head.

The addictive quality of food isn't something incidental that companies just happen to benefit from -- they're aware of the phenomenon, and they've been playing the market in the exact same way drug pushers do. Within Coca-Cola, the 20 percent of customers who drink 80 percent of their product are actually known as "heavy users," and the company has made it its mission to specifically target them. And the goal has always been to get you more addicted. They're basically drug-dealing supervillains from a Michael Bay movie, only better written.

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The only better racket would be convincing people to pay you for aging.

#2. Most "Healthy Foods" Are Packed With Hidden Crap

Food companies have been dumping sugar into absolutely everything you eat, from yogurt to wheat bread. It's not only junk food binge eaters that are getting addicted, it's anyone who doesn't have their own vegetable patch and private herd of steers.

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Resist the urge to name him, it'll make it that much harder.

Eighty percent of food sold in America has processed sugar, and processed sugar has 56 different names. So even if you're deliberately trying to avoid processed sugar, odds are you won't even know you're buying it unless you write down "galactose" and "rapadura" on some flash cards and quiz yourself like you're studying for the goddamned MCATs.

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"Let's just market it as 'orgasmatol.'"

Even if something doesn't taste "sweet," it can still be packed with chemicals that your body will immediately turn into sugar. And taking that junk out makes everything taste like bullshit to us, because our taste buds have been numbed with salt and sugar our entire lives. One journalist described the taste of sugar- and salt-free Kellogg's cornflakes as like trying to eat his own fillings -- and that's cornflakes, the kind of food that seems like it has barely any sugar to begin with.

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This is what it looks like to live life on the edge.

But at least you're avoiding high fructose corn syrup, the most common form of processed sweetener and the bane of anybody nominally interested in wellness, right? Good luck with that -- neuroscientists recently observed that exposing lab rats to high fructose corn syrup brought about behavioral changes similar to those produced by addictive drugs like cocaine. Somewhere out there, Mrs. Butterworth is sitting languidly at a mahogany desk, slowly dunking her face into a giant vat of syrup while "Push It to the Limit" blasts at 130 decibels.

#1. There's a Lot of Money in Convincing You That the Above Isn't True

We've previously discussed how your brain will do everything it can to trick you into thinking you aren't really addicted to something. Food company executives who depend on your money to pay for their private jets are taking full advantage of this fact.

For example, Fox News recently ran a piece titled "Junk Food Might Not Be Addictive After All." They interviewed a scientist who discussed a study he had conducted wherein rats were given junk food. After the rats had gorged themselves to a ridiculous weight, the junk food was taken away and replaced with healthy food. Rather than eat the healthy food, the rats chose to starve themselves for two weeks. The rats would even intentionally subject themselves to electric shocks to get to the junk food, even though the healthy food could've been eaten without enduring a painful burst of electrocution. You may recognize this as, oh, the textbook definition of addiction.

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"I'm not an addict. Not as long as there are plenty of Doritos around."

However, the scientist concluded the interview by saying that technically the food didn't have the exact same chemical effect on the rats' brains as addictive drugs, so the headline became "junk food might not be addictive." See, market analysts know that once something is generally considered to be "addictive," people will actively prevent their children from being exposed to it.

And the entire business model of major food companies is to get you chemically dependent on their product from early childhood, so as long as fast food chains and soft drink corporations and the like keep dumping billions of dollars into advertising deals with mass media conglomerates, we're likely to see this information continue to be downplayed or flat-out ignored for years to come. Might as well go have a Coke and a smile.

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"I'd be a corporate whistle-blower, but the clown and the violet ogre put a bomb in my brain."



J.F. Sargent is writing a sci-fi comedy action story you can read for free. You can also reach him on Twitter, his website, or Facebook.

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