She’s known to millions of Australians as Roo Stewart from Home and Away, but now actress Georgie Parker is speaking out about a health issue that has impacted her from a young age.
The former All Saints star says she’s lived with uncomfortable bloating since her childhood, but has recently turned her diet around in an effort to combat the issue once and for all.
Speaking to Starts at 60, Georgie said she believes taking too many antibiotics as a child had impacted her gut health.
“I think bloating affects most women and it has affected my life from quite a young age, I suppose because I am a fast eater, which doesn’t help digestion, so I would bloat quite a lot,” she said. “I never did eat quite enough yoghurt, I had antibiotics quite a lot as a child and I was not aware of gut health, so I think I endured a lot of difficulties because I wasn’t aware of the impact that antibiotics had on my system.”
According to research by Activia, 85 per cent of Australians experience digestive discomfort. Both men and women are impacted, with one in three men removing themselves from a meeting because of their bloating, while one in three women bail on a friend or family member because of toilet troubles.
As many as 46 per cent of Australians reduce or remove certain food groups from their diet in an attempt to beat the bloat, although for many, cutting sugar can be enough to stop tummy troubles.
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“Excess sugar is often the reason for bloating, gas, irrational bowel movements and simply an uncomfortable tummy,” nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge explained to Starts at 60.
In addition, many sufferers have a sensitivity to food or simply eat too much at meal times. Bloating can usually be reduced by simplifying meals with clean proteins, fats and antioxidant-rich carbs.
Thankfully, there are budget-friendly options that can help Australians. This includes eating foods that are rich in probiotics because they’re scientifically proven to improve digestive problems.
“We can purchase probiotics in supplements but why not eat them?” Michele said. “We have to eat so why not eat good quality yoghurts without added sugar like Activia, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and kefir.”
Opting for real and whole foods that are full of fibre and low in sugar is a good place to start, meaning packaged lollies, cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, canned fruits and even most breakfast cereals should be avoided where possible to prevent bloating.
“I am not saying not to have these things ever again but begin to connect the ‘digestive dots’ after you do indulge in these and see how your tummy feels,” Michele added. “We can often find solutions to our sweet tooth by beginning to look for healthier recipes that we prepare at home.”
Read more: Super-easy food swaps to beat bloating
For Georgie, eating slower and not overeating has helped her beat the bloat.
“I am busy, which means I sometimes eat in the car, which is not ideal,” she confessed. “So I am also eating slower and be more mindful of sitting down to eat. For me, bloating isn’t about weight-gain or weighing yourself, it’s about how you feel and self-confidence.”
She also explained that managing any food intolerances you may have is vital as is steering clear of foods that upset your stomach.
“For me, beating the bloat is about feeling comfortable and confident,” the A Country Practice star said. “Being bloated is frustrating and uncomfortable because you feel full but you’re not actually full at all.
“I want to show women how easy it is to get on top of digestive issues, so they can regain some control and start to feel good which will help them feel more confident.”
It’s always important to discuss your symptoms with a GP or health professional to work out a diet that’s best for you.