Man vs food

Optometrist and Clinical Editor, Ian Beasley, speaks of fat in unmentionable areas and how to get rid of it

I have to admit to having a rather blemished track record with regards to sticking to New Year’s resolutions, at least beyond the first few days in January. 

In truth, the need for a lifestyle review has been long overdue, at least according to a conversation between the female members of the Beasley household: ‘Perhaps we should get Dad a bra for Christmas’ they tittered. Like I wasn’t even in the room. But they had a point and their frank assessment was certainly sufficient to jolt me from the state of denial that had led to the insidious accumulation of fat in unmentionable areas. Not to mention a chin that could no longer be accurately referenced in the singular.

It had taken the best part of a decade for my excess weight to creep on and no doubt a direct result of the Domino’s effect (other purveyors of gluten-riddled snacks are available). So, with a BMI teetering on the wrong side of healthy it was time to take remedial action.

Now, where to start with the diet? It seemed Google had the answer, or more specifically 467,000,000 of them: Atkins (so last year), juice, 5:2, and cabbage soup - really? The subject area is a minefield for the uninitiated and enough to drive one to cake. Deciding to avoid the fad approach, I opted for the simpler route: eat only when hungry and select healthier options instead of the usual clotted cream scone smothered in chocolate sauce.

Well, five weeks on and I’m delighted to report that although my overall appearance is still more likely to turn stomachs than heads I am looking rather svelte even if I do say so myself. Of course, putting vanity to one side, the wider health benefits of curbing ones indulgencies should not be overlooked. 

Perhaps we should take a leaf from the Okinawans’ book of clean living given this Japanese island has been identified as a specific hotspot for longevity and low disease prevalence. Research suggests that a calorie-restricted, nutrient-dense diet significantly contributes to the increased lifespan and low rates of disease that these islanders yield. It seems that being choosy about what we put in our mouths has the potential to reduce inflammation and provide antioxidant benefits and may play an important role in common eye conditions affecting the retina, such as macular degeneration.

In addition to retinal complications, research has also shown that restricting calorie intake may protect against cataracts and dry eye disease although evidence for all of these findings has largely been drawn from studies on animals.

For me it'll certainly be a case of ‘watch this space’ before I ban all treats from the house forevermore. In the meantime, I am relieved to say that upon opening my Christmas presents earlier this week, the opportunity to fill my first A-cup appears to have been deflected, at least for the time being.

Make your eye health your New Year's resolution.

Ian BeasleyOptometrist, Dr Ian Beasley, is Clinical Editor for Optometry Today, Head of Education for the Association of Optometrists and postgraduate researcher at Aston University