Cocktails, cupcakes, salty potato chips, a big juicy cheeseburger. These things all taste pretty darn good as they pass through your lips, but what happens after they move on down the road? “No matter what you swallow, the mechanisms are the same: past the food pipe, through the esophagus, and into your stomach,” says Ira Breite, M.D., a clinical assistant professor in the division of gastroenterology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But there are differences in how specific nutrients like proteins, carbs, and fats are absorbed,” he says.

Here’s what happens when some of your favorite guilty pleasures hit your belly, and how to take a healthier approach:

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