There are a lot of regularly scheduled things in life. Take home maintenance, for instance. Somewhere along the way you will need to make repairs or even just change things up a bit around the old homestead. When this happens, we make plans and anticipate resolving those plans. When the big truck pulls up loaded with the necessary materials for whatever project we have in mind, we get excited. We hurry to unload the truck and sort through all of the cool new stuff. We arrange said stuff into different categories of what we are going to use first, second and so forth. And maybe we decided to “get a little extra” just in case we might need it in the future, or simply just want it, and this goes into the garage or storage shed for the time being.
This is exactly the way our dependence and/or love of food operates.
Most of us don’t order food by the truckload — at least not usually — but the analogy works anyway. We have a need or desire (“I’m hungry” or “pizza sounds good”) and then we either order food or fix it ourselves. And from the minute the decision presents itself we (or I, at least) get excited for the truck to show up. Instantly we begin unloading the truck — and I for one can unload metaphorical trucks very quickly. It is at this point where the analogy changes a bit. We have nearly total control over the process up to when we swallow those tasty metaphorical home improvement supplies. But at that point it is an automatic function of our bodies to sort and categorize them, especially the storage of surplus material. But the process is still the same.
Whether it is neurotransmitters in our brains or a clever ad from a fast food chain that convinces us we are hungry, at that point we begin to prepare for that food to arrive. Salivation is like moving everything out of the driveway to make it easier for the truck to pull up to our house. Chewing our food — be it kale or cheesy bratwurst — and swallowing is like unloading the truck. But once those chili-cheese fries or tofu passes down the esophagus and into our stomachs, the digestive process takes over. It is up to our bodies to make sense of what to do with all of the materials we just gave it. But, don’t worry, because, unlike some home improvement contractors, the body has its own set of blueprints that tell it what to do with what it is given.
But remember this; even the best contractor can only work with what it is given.
So, once those delicious bites hit the stomach, the body goes “on the clock.” Gastric acids flood the stomach and begin breaking down all the bits of General Tso’s chicken and Rocky Road ice cream — even whatever is actually in a “triple mocha latte” — into something the body might actually be able to use. You know, wonderful things like proteins, carbohydrates and fats which it, in turn, can use to perform functions which range from autonomic (like breathing) to walking across the room to the refrigerator. There might be some ice cream left, after all.
This process works much in the same way as we do when sorting materials. The body burns fuel, builds muscle, repairs itself and stores materials that it might need later or simply hasn’t figured out what to do with yet. Everything is processed one way or another, for the same reason we don’t leave materials on the truck. We own it now, regardless of whether or not we made practical purchases. And though there is some waste (not going any further with that), our bodies by nature are hoarders; we keep whatever we don’t use up immediately. And this, more than anything else, is why it’s important to order properly.
Some fat is good for the body, just like an extra bundle of shingles in the garage. And when the body stores something as fat, it really is a lot like putting something in the garage. It is going to be there for quite a while. Maybe forever. The body doesn’t actually want to burn fat any more than we want to dig through our garages to find something useful. Why? Because unless it is an emergency, it is always easier to go get more of what you need. Unfortunately, this leads to more surplus stored in our garages well beyond the point where we would need anything extra.
But cleaning out the garage is a different column.
Reach CHARLES ROMANS at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2655.