We’ve grown up listening to our grandmothers and mothers very matter-of-factly telling us what we should and shouldn’t do after a meal. We very unquestionably and trustingly followed what they had to say. Weren’t you ever curious to know if there was ever a logical explanation to some of the old wives’ tales?
1. Don’t swim for at least an hour after eating.
Claim: Your muscles will cramp or you will drown from the weight of a full stomach.
The truth: Apart from the fact that your ingested food might be regurgitated in a pool in which you will be immersed in…
…there is nothing much to break your head over.
It is true the digestive process may scavenge blood away from your suffocating muscles, depriving them of oxygen. However, it is also true that your body counteractively produces adrenaline to supply oxygen to those muscles. There is no evidence to correlate cramps with post-meal swims yet. So, as long as your not trying to break Michael Phelps’ world records just after you’ve hogged on a giant-sized cheese burger, you’re safe. It’s more an excuse for parents to relax an extra hour after lunch by keeping their over-enthusiastic kids from jumping back into the pool.
2. Don’t bathe for at least 30 minutes after eating.
Claim: Your digestion will slow down.
The truth: This claim is the opposite of the previous one (fishy considering both have to do with water on your body).
It is believed, without sufficient scientific evidence, that blood flows away from your digestive organs toward your skin to normalize your body temperature. (Think: diverted traffic)
Yes, this is true. However, it MAY be a concern only if you spend way more than the average 10-15 minutes that most of us take in the shower. If that’s not what you do, take relief in the fact that your body is well equipped to regulate mild fluctuations in body temperature without having to interfere with such a vital process as digestion.
3. Don’t walk immediately after a meal.
Claim: You will not be able to digest your food properly and you will experience abdominal pain and discomfort.
The truth: Pay attention to the word ‘immediately.’
Squeezing in barely a few minutes between your last sip of water at the dining table and your first step in the park can cause acid reflux, indigestion, and abdominal pain. However, going for a walk 20-30 minutes after a meal can do you a world of good. It improves digestion, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and aids in weight loss. If you generally don’t suffer from any digestive problems, this myth should be busted by you in a second.
Verdict: True if you suffer from digestive problems, false if not.
4. Don’t eat fruits immediately after a meal.
Claim: Your stomach will bloat or the fruits will start rotting in your stomach.
The truth: With so many fruity desserts on the menu, it is surprising that this one made it to the list. Fruits, in general, take longer to digest than other foods. However, claims that suggest adverse reactions with other foods and their likelihood of rotting in the stomach…
…need to be clarified here and now.
Fruits actually improve digestion. Your stomach has a pool of digestive juices that target carbs, proteins, and fats, not risottos, pizzas, and fruits. Besides, stomach acids prevent the growth of bacteria required for fermentation. If you’re diabetic or are predisposed to stomach problems like bloating, consult your doctor before completely busting this myth.
5. Don’t sleep immediately after a meal.
Claim: Whatever you’ve just eaten will immediately convert to and store as fat.
The truth: Your weight depends on whether or not you maintain a calorie deficit and not on your post-meal naps. So, though the claim is fabricated, the advice holds true for different reasons. While you sleep, your body goes into turbo repair mode.
The excess stomach acids, thus, produced may cause heartburn. Lying in a horizontal position (a.k.a. sleeping) may also cause acid refluxes as stomach acids flow the wrong way up the food pipe. Also, a puffy stomach may cause you discomfort and prevent you from getting sound sleep. This can snowball into conditions like sleep apnea. Not to forget, running to bed just after lunch or dinner encourages lazy habits that lead to obesity.