Mind Over Platter

By Ben Felsenburg

‘Lord, make me good – but not yet,’ as St Augustine said, or as the old joke goes: ‘Eat, drink and be merry – for tomorrow we diet.’

But then there comes the moment when we’re left with no choice but to confront the horror of the ever-expanding waistline and have to do something – but what? Quietly saying no to that extra slice of pizza, or something more drastic? The Big Crash Diet Experiment (Wednesday, BBc1, 8pm) takes a lively but expert look at the low-calorie (relatively) quick fix to find out if it ever works. Crash diets have long been frowned upon: the NHS guidance is that they can be nutritionally inadequate and all too often the weight is quickly piled back on. Though presenter Javid Abdelmoneim – an A&E doctor who with his boyishly handsome looks would make a perfect son-in-law for any family – shares such scepticism, he finds in oxford professor Susan Jebb an impassioned advocate for crash diets who persuades him to think again. Together they devise a gripping experiment in which four obese volunteers give up the meals they’ve loved too much and switch to a low-calorie regime, with the target of losing two stone in just four weeks.

Without giving everything away, what follows is riveting viewing, and this isn’t just about squeezing into the outfits of yesteryear: Abdelmoneim finds evidence that crash diets can fix even such serious conditions as diabetes. Plenty of food for thought.