It's the food we eat when we're in a hurry, that we can devour in one sitting.
If you're addicted to junk food — the taste, the look, the price — salty or sweet snacks at any hour of the day can literally makes you feel better.
"The combination of sugar and salt or just sugar or salt, releases a type of 'reward' chemical in our brains called dopamine," says Abby Langer, a dietitian based in Toronto. "It's the same 'reward system' people get from using drugs."
Think about it. Don't you get a feeling of deep-down satisfaction by biting into a crispy, crunchy and salty French fry? Langer says this feeling of pleasure releases the feel-good chemical in our brain, making us want to eat more and more.
"This is also why some people go through withdrawal when they stop eating junk food," Langer says, adding that it takes about six weeks to fully change your body's eating habits.
Sugar and salt have been the enemy of food and health experts for a while. In March, the World Health Organization urged people to lower their sugar intake (from 10 per cent of one's daily calorie intake to five), and noted eating an excessive amount can lead to massive health problems like diabetes and obesity.
According to the government of Canada, adults should consume about 1,500 mg of sodium per day and not go over 2,300 mg. Sugar, on the other hand, doesn't have a recommended daily intake amount, keeping in mind fruits, veggies and milk all have sugar.
Langer says limiting junk food intake (for the sake of your health) isn't easy. When people are addicted to salt and sugar, it can be difficult to drop all of your bad habits in one go. She recommends taking things very slow. Cut out processed foods, find replacements like cheese and crackers for Cheetos, for example, cook more at home, eat out less and read labels thoroughly before you buy something. And don't feel guilty about eating a chip or doughnut once in a while.
So what's the most addictive junk food in your kitchen? Here is Langer's top junk food list (according to her clients) with a mixture of foods we can't stop eating either. Add yours to the comments below: