By DR. KAREN LATIMER
Do you have to wait 30 minutes after eating to swim?
The longest half an hour in the life of a child might be the traditional waiting time between eating and swimming. Passed down through generations of parents, this guideline is widely accepted, but it simply isn't true.
It wasn't thought up as a way to torture kids. There is a theory behind it. After you eat, more blood flows to your digestive system to help process the food. This may result in less blood flow to other areas of your body, which explains some of the postprandial fatigue some people experience. People then believe less oxygen from the blood will cause leg cramps, which of course if you are a catastrophic thinker like so many moms and dads are, will lead to drowning.
The fact is, if your kids are engaged in recreational swimming and splashing, lunch shouldn't cause any problems, and they can finish up and dive right back into the fun. If you or they are doing strenuous swimming for exercise or competition, probably best to give the body some time to properly digest, just as you would before any other kind of intense exercise.
You may have other reasons for wanting to keep them out of the water. Maybe you want to read your book or relax, and don't want to have to keep a vigilant eye for a few moments. If that's the case, then by all means, defend the waiting time with the "You'll get a cramp" excuse. But, if you've been tolerating the whining and questioning of "How much longer?" because you truly believed the half hour waiting time was a safety precaution, give the kids the green light and enjoy the silence.
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