Steph McGovern health: ‘I have no control’ – star’s ‘dodgy guts’ and her tips to help IBS

Steph McGovern surprises Simon Rimmer with water pistol

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The popular presenter, who is currently the main presenter on her self-titular daily show Steph’s Packed Lunch is once again speaking out about her IBS in a bid to rid the stigma and embarrassment that many might still feel. It wasn’t until she took part in television series Easy Ways to Live Well that Steph realised the extent of her unhealthy gut problems, and since has been on a mission to try and live relatively problem-free.

She shared: “I never thought that it was something that I couldn’t deal with. When I was younger I just thought ‘Oh this is what happens to me, I get terrible stomach cramps and then end up needing to run to the loo and have really bad diarrhoea’. And that was a regular occurence.

“I just assumed that it was an intolerance to something or it was stress related, but then as I got older and I did a TV show where I basically got my gut tested and the results came out as the worst third of the population.

“It was one of those shocking moments and obviously I was being filmed at the time, but I was really embarrassed.”

Following on from her initial shock to the news, Steph was told by doctors that she has what was known as a “junk food gut” which translated to mean that she had a “bad diversity of bacteria” living in the gut as a result of not looking after it.

“From the show I learned a bit about gut health and things like that,” Steph continued to say. “But shortly after that I was pregnant, so the stuff I had learnt I couldn’t really do as I had really bad pregnancy sickness.

“After I had my little girl it was probably at its worst and that is when I thought I really need to get back on the gut health stuff.”

The Mayo Clinic explains that due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, individuals are at an increased risk of suffering from gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, with a potential to lead on to IBS.

In fact, approximately two in three people who suffer from IBS are female, and of average childbearing age.

Symptoms of pregnancy and IBS tend to overlap, with high progesterone levels the root cause of constipation, but changes in the pelvic floor putting increased pressure on the abdominal area, which affects bowel movements.

Despite being at its worst during the time when Steph was actually pregnant, before then, people often mistakenly thought she was pregnant because of her “belly,” which was contributed to by her “dodgy guts”.

When asked if her symptoms ever affected her job on live TV she went on to say: “I don’t think I have ever let anything physically stop me from doing my job, but especially when I did breakfast telly I would always seek out the loo first of all.

“I didn’t really have any fruit or anything because for a while I thought it was being caused by smoothies, so I just tried not to eat when I was doing breakfast shifts because I was worried about what might happen. When you are on live telly you can’t just turn round and say ‘sorry everyone I just have to leg it to the loo.’

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“That is what my IBS is like, I have no control on when I need to go. And if you are trying to keep everything in, your stomach cramps are off the scale. So that’s what I used to do. If I didn’t have easy access to a loo then I would try to not have anything to eat or drink to make sure nothing was there.”

Having caused major problems to her career and personal life in the past, Steph has finally been able to get a grip of her IBS. Using “quick fixes” such as Symprove – a market-leading water-based probiotic, the star has also changed bits in her diet.

“I try to have kimchi in my diet,” Steph explained. “I also have kefir drinks every so often and I do intermittent fasting during the week at work. I only eat between the hours of 11am and 7pm during the day which gives my gut at least 16 hours to digest everything.

“Honestly, it has turned my life around. Due to a combination of these things I rarely have IBS problems. It only happens if I haven’t been able to do all of these things. But that rarely happens because it has been so easy to incorporate into my life.”

In the past, Steph has given fans an insight into her typical “Monday routine” which sees her drink water or green tea until 11:30am. For lunch, she will then have a steak salad filled with kale, quinoa, beans, edamame, sweetcorn, coleslaw and kimchi. The mum-of-one also has a fish finger sandwich and carries on drinking plain water or kefir water throughout the day.

In the evening, Steph usually takes an exercise class before having dinner at 7.30pm, consisting of pork in char siu sauce with rice, ginger and garlic bok choi as well as some kimchi.

Having received tons of praise about her physique, Steph went on to proudly say: “I haven’t had to do some fatty diet or anything. I have literally done it by changing the hours I eat and taking these little bits and bobs with usual food. It has really helped me.”

Since finding successful and long-lasting ways in which to control her IBS, Steph now has the confidence to eat foods that she would have normally avoided, including fruit salads and omelettes. She added: “I never had fruit salads because I always found that that was when it was at its worst. But I went on holiday recently and I had a gorgeous fruit salad and an omelette and on day one I thought ‘Oh my god I’m fine!’”

Steph McGovern is an advocate for the water-based probiotic Symprove, which delivers four unique strains of bacteria that reach the gut alive. To kick-start your journey, visit

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