Mar 28, 2011

Wait one hour after eating

...and while on the subject of myths, does anyone (presumably my age - Gen X - and older) remember this one?
"You can't go swimming for an hour after eating."

As I was re-reading the "we only use 10% of our brains" myth at, a link reminded me of this little gem.

God, how many miserable, boiling hot, sunscreen-less, fly-stricken hours did we spend as kids sitting waiting for that hour to pass, pestering our mums who possessed a fortitude unknown to mothers today (okay, to me) to be able to resist all whining and pestering until that hour was up?

Lots is how many. In my memory half of my childhood summer was spent in this way.

At some point the waiting period reduced to half an hour.
Either the science progressed, our mums relaxed a little as none of us cramped up in the water over the years, or else maybe they wilted under the pestering after all.

I remember trying to "store up" wetness and coolness and fun by having a long swim right before lunch - only to have all that pleasantness evaporate in moments and nothing to do once the beetroot and salad roll was gone but wait, wait, wait in that bloody awful Australian sun until the hour was past.

It's easy to laugh.

But here's my take on these so-called "old wives' tales".
They almost all contain a little bit of truth.
You see, those "old wives" of yore were mothers and women and I think too often science sneers a little at the knowlege of women.
Women who had to take care of their kids and who stored up and passed on knowlege that helped - such as that swimming right after a heavy meal could cause cramps that a kid might have trouble with.
I'm sure there are studies proving this a nonsense but I don't find it hard to believe that swimming after a big meal could cause a "stitch".

The article on Snopes discusses some of the arguments for and against and while it concludes there is no basis for fear, it makes the very true point that it is very hard to talk yourself out of a lesson ingrained so deeply during childhood.
My kids don't swim yet. When we were on our last holiday I let them "swim" in the shallow pool and beach right after lunch - but a twinge of doubt ensured I was extra vigilant during those first 30 minutes...


  1. Hi JK,

    I remember the swimming one and many others. I think my mum invented loads to keep me in check.

    The best one was:

    "You can't eat an apple AND drink a cup of tea at the same time. The combination will make you ill."

    Utter bunkum.

    And I've never believed the ten per cent of your brain nonsense either.




  2. Hi PM,
    I've never heard of the apple and cup of tea thing!
    But this does remind me of a couple of others. When I was a kid my dad used to insist (to my mum's scoffing) that you couldn't drink orange juice and eat cereal together, or the milk and juice would "curdle" in your stomach.
    And when I lived in Greece I was assured many times by people of all stripes that it was dangerous to eat fish and cheese together. If you were eating fish you could not serve a salad with fetta in it. Dangerous!

  3. Haha! I love this. :)
    My mom was mostly relaxed about it. She would make me wait maybe 10 minutes or so, but I was always careful to eat a small meal instead of a big one so I didn't have to wait too long. Same thing with my kids.
    I think it makes sense that if you eat a large meal and do any kind of exercise right after you will probably get some sort of stitch or cramp. But then again, who knows? ;)



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