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Multiple Stomachs

My dad often likes to say that he has a separate stomach for dessert. Perhaps you’ve experienced this, too, or know someone else who does.

But before last weekend, I never thought about the fact that, logically, if you have a dessert stomach, you must have a non-dessert stomach as well.

This came up at a camping trip with a friend and her twin five-year-old boys. On Sunday morning, we had a big breakfast: sausage, pancakes (with raspberries picked by the boys), blueberries, and hot chocolate. I had brought two packages of sausages, but I only cooked one to start before moving on to pancakes.

After a few good-sized pancakes, the boys said they were full. That left the question of whether or not to cook the rest of the sausages. My friend and I thought we’d like more but didn’t think we could eat all of them.

One of the boys chimed in, “I’ll have some sausage.”

Surprised, I said, “I thought you were full.”

He explained, “Well, my sweet stomach is full, but my healthy stomach isn’t.”

I laughed and cooked the sausage. Sure enough, both boys apparently had room in their “healthy” stomachs because between the four of us we polished off the sausage. (As an aside, it also seems like their “sweet” stomachs don’t take too long to empty, since three hours later they were more than happy to stop for ice cream.)

It was funny, but it got me thinking. Although I’ve never thought about it in the language he used, I did know what he meant. I’ve had times where I’ve eaten too many sweet foods and want something more savory and perhaps nutritious to help balance it out.

I also thought how interesting it would be if we truly did have multiple stomachs for different types of foods, and we could parcel our food out between them. How big would the healthy stomach be compared to the sweet stomach? How would that work with foods that cross categories, like fruit that’s really sweet?

That’s all hypothetical, of course, since unlike cows, we only have one stomach. Given that, the best we can do is pay attention to what our stomachs are telling us. And I hope that my young friend can continue to hear and heed his body’s voice and find the right balance in what he eats.

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