Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who's the Boss?

Many moons ago, during the days of album-oriented rock, I was a pre-med at Northwestern University, just outside Chicago.  For four years, I took all the coursework, except for physical chemistry, required to gain admission to medical school, but in the end, I opted for a career in information technology.  (That's a long story, but it's not truly the focus of this posting.)  Suffice to say that I do still recall quite a lot about human physiology and how all the pieces fit together.  However, one thing they didn't teach us, but that I have come to realize through repeated practical experience, is that the brain is not the true "boss" of the body.  The big cheese, the head honcho, the true Corporeal CEO as it were, is the stomach.

Yes, the brain, often considered the Grand Poobah of the Body, is a wonderful, intricate thing.  True, it misfires on occasion, but for the most part, it just clicks right on along.  You can throw Ambien in there to put it to sleep, dance like a whirling dervish until you can't stand up, even bump your head now and then, but generally, unless something very serious happens, the brain makes rather light of it all and goes on about its business.  You might see colors and patterns, but that can be fun, admit it.

Not so with the stomach.  Just try hitting that buffet line after downing too many Cheez-Its and a bottle of Kalbarri Merlot, and you'll see what I mean.  The stomach is somewhat patient, in that it allows you to fill it full of stuff, and then it waits until you least expect it to stage a revolt.  The brain in this case runs far ahead of the stomach, directing the eyes to those last few chicken nuggets, then the olfactory kicks in with the smell of those double chocolate cookies, and the next thing you know, you've cleaned your plate -- several times.  At roughly 3:00 AM, after you've left the party and have settled comfortably in your bed, the stomach will quite convincingly let you know who's truly king of the castle.

Of course, this whole pecking order has provided a fertile ground for the introduction of Philips Milk of Magnesia, Tums, Pepto-Bismol, Mylanta, Di-Gel, Pepcid, Pepcid AC, Pepcid DC, Pepcid NYC, all of them, up to and including that old standby paregoric, itself a tincture of opium...yes, in the dens.  Of course, none of these products offer immediate relief, because the stomach, in its infinite wisdom, is intent on proving a point.  And it's very good at doing just that.

So the next time you're tempted to overindulge, remember that rule they teach you in dieting classes: eat a little, then allow the stomach a few minutes to catch up and tell you how full it is before you proceed further.  That's good advice, and who knows?  You might just stay on the good side of the boss. moderation.