When MT's papers for 1979 were released at the Churchill Archive Centre in Cambridge in January 2010 a folded slip of paper was found tucked away in a flap at the front of her pocket diary.
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long march to no.10: the pm's diet?
An election to win: whatever it takes
Perhaps this should read "The Leader of the Opposition's Diet", a pre-election spruce up in anticipation of a photographic onslaught when the campaign began. In MT's engagement diary for 1979 a "Mayo Clinic Diet" was found, annotated and ticked like a state paper, a pre-Atkins high protein diet in which grapefruit was the magic ingredient. She stopped using the diary once she went to No.10, so the diet almost certainly predates the premiership.
Research has shown that the name is misleading: the diet had no connection with the real Mayo Clinic, which issued disclaimers and writs to no effect for many years before deciding in late 2009 to produce one of its own, bearing no resemblance to the diet MT used ("Eat Well. Enjoy Life. Lose Weight").
Sharp-eyed reporters at the press preview of these documents calculated that MT may have been eating as many as 28 eggs a week, but probably for no longer than a fortnight.
MT in fact discussed the diet in an interview with the Sun on 13 March 1979. At that point she acknowledged weighing 9.5 stone (133 pounds) and was 5'5" tall. The Sun's reporter speculated on the political logic of it all: "After all, if a person can't control her weight, doesn't it occur to everybody that she may not be able to control other, more important things?"
The present Whitehall editor of the Sun was equally perceptive on this topic. A self-confessed dieting veteran, she saw immediately that the diet described in the interview differed from that in the diary. Accordingly there may have been two diets.