Diane Keaton ate 20,000 calories per day during her bulimic years


I have such fond memories of Diane Keaton’s classic movies, including those she did with Woody Allen and especially the Godfather trilogy. Today, Diane’s new memoir, Then Again, within which she takes no pains in discussing what she perceives as her own shortcomings, hits bookstore shelves. The below excerpts touch upon her doomed romances with Woody Allen and Al Pacino, but the book itself also promises to discuss her relationships with Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson as well as how she finally found herself, unconditional love, and motherhood at the age of 50 after adopting a son and daughter. The real kicker though? These details about Diane’s five years of struggling with bulimia:



On Her Eating Disorder: For breakfast each day, she’d shovel down a dozen buttered corn muffins, three fried eggs with bacon, pancakes and four glasses of chocolate milk. For lunch: three buttered steaks with charbroiled fat on the side, two-and-a-half baked potatoes with sour cream, apple pie and two chocolate sundaes with extra nuts.

Dinner almost defied belief: a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, several orders of chips with blue cheese and ketchup, a couple of TV dinners, chocolate-covered almonds, a large bottle of 7Up, a pound of peanut brittle, M&Ms, mango juice, one Sara Lee pound cake, and three frozen banana-cream pies.

Eating and purging around 20,000 calories a day gave Diane heartburn, indigestion, irregular periods, low blood pressure and 26 cavities in her teeth. The psychological effects were arguably worse: she was using food to escape reality.

On Woody Allen: “We shared a love of torturing each other with our failures. He could sling out the insults, and so could I . . . His insights into my character were dead-on and — duh! — hilarious. I had him pegged as a cockroach you couldn’t kill.”

Keaton and Allen were together for a decade before splitting up in the late 1970s after building a body of work including the classics Sleeper, Love And Death, Annie Hall and Manhattan. In a bittersweet aside, Diane confesses: “I miss Woody. He’d cringe if he knew how much I care about him, but I’m smart enough not to broach the subject. I know he’s borderline repulsed by the grotesque nature of my affection. What am I supposed to do? I still love him.”

On Al Pacino: In 1997, she’d been nursing a crush — in this case for the 15 years since she’d starred with him in The Godfather, when they were both involved with other people. Al Pacino was, she says, consumed by two things: baseball and the theatre. And although they soon embarked on an affair, she suspected he viewed her more as someone he could talk to than as a lover. “I wanted more, lots more,” she admits. “I wanted him to want me as much as I wanted him. I wanted him to love me.” In 1990, when they flew to Rome to start filming Godfather III, she gave him an ultimatum: “Marry me, or at least commit to the possibility.” Clearly, his response was not what she’d hoped for: they broke up, got together again and went on to have another “dozen” break-ups. “Poor Al. Poor me — I never stopped insisting.”

[From Daily Mail]

Those details of Diane’s experience with bulimia are just staggering. I can’t even imagine how she hid the fact that she was eating (let alone purging) so bloody much food, especially since she managed to keep it all a secret while working on film sets too. And 26 cavities? Yikes. No wonder she’s gone the veneer route in such a major way these days.

Tonight, Diane appears on HLN’s “The Joy Behar Show,” in which she and Joy reminisce about working together in Manhattan Murder Mystery (at the height of the Woody/Mia/Soon Yi scandal). Oddly, Diane and Joy spend most of this clip talking about Woody’s hot bod:

[From HLN’s The Joy Behar Show]

I do take slight issue with Diane’s continued confessions of love for Woody Allen. The guy is married, albeit to his adopted daughter, but still. Leave the man in his relative peace already. Now wasn’t Al Pacino quite the dreamboat back in the day? Damn.




Photos courtesy of Fame and AllMoviePhoto

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71 Responses to “Diane Keaton ate 20,000 calories per day during her bulimic years”

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  1. Turtle Dove says:

    Well, it’s all about control, right? Some parts of the life are falling apart, so you eat and purge to maintain some measure of control of your life. She may discuss it, but the issues are still there – gloves, completely covered with clothes…

    all that aside, Diana is one of my favorite actors, and she looks amazing in that leather dress.

  2. DenG says:

    I like her so much for not looking plastic. Looking great at age 65!

  3. Katyusha says:

    Holy sh*t – that sounds exhausting.

    I know when I throw up just from food poisoning alone it takes everything out of me.

    To do it everyday, 3x a day?
    Oh my God. Oh my God.

    How did her stomach not explode?

  4. Lisa says:

    I. Love. Her.

    Always have…always will…

    And I celebrate the person who is brutally honest when they write an autobiography…

  5. chocolate cake says:

    oh michael corleone my dear sweet love

  6. rissa says:

    i heard you still absorb a lot of calories even if you do throw up. how did she stay skinny if you ate 20,000 calories…

  7. layla says:

    She really has aged gracefully and beautifully!!!

  8. jlo1982 says:

    she’s awesome

  9. lucy2 says:

    Holy moly. I can’t fathom eating THAT much. She’s lucky it didn’t kill her! Very glad she did whatever she did to stop and take better care of herself.

  10. Anna says:

    Damn. That sounds awful. That went on for 5 years? So sad.

  11. DarkEmpress says:

    The human body may look weak from the outside when compared to those of other animals, but to see what people but their bodies through and yet they still survive, shows just how strong and resilient our bodies truly are.

  12. deva says:

    The only part I don’t believe is the pound cake. I would think pound cake would be really hard to barf up. But then again, if it is floating around in all that cream pie and soda, it could come up pretty easily.

    Bulimia is very expensive. Anorexia is way more thrifty.

    I do appreciate her honesty. I would imagine that she wasn’t binging and purging *every* night (in response to the question of how she kept it a secret on movie sets).

  13. Happy21 says:

    That’s just gross. So brutal that it went undetected. Of course, nowadays someone being so thin would set off warning bells all around. So glad that she stopped doing that. Am curious to know what made her stop.

    Woody Allen? Really? Ick. He always seemed like a creep to me and then when he had an affair with his adopted daughter I knew he really was a creep and didn’t just seem like one.

    Al Pacino is my #1 fave actor. I love him and fell in love with 70’s Al when I was in my teens and ‘discovered’ him. Al as Serpico was just plain hot.

  14. Cheyenne says:

    How is it even possible to eat that much?!

  15. RocketMerry says:

    I love Diane. She had the worst emotional self destructive instincts when it came to finding a man, I’m so glad that she feels good and loved now.

  16. Samigirl says:

    I just…I can’t imagine eating that much food. Ever. Even when I was 9 months pregnant with my son and I ate everything in site…I couldn’t eat that much. It’s gross. I don’t know if I should be impressed or disgusted.

  17. Tiffany says:

    I like her so much. I think I will get this book, read it, and then give it to my Mom.

  18. UKHels says:

    she’s got a shag list to be proud of! 😉

  19. maggie grace says:

    You know, eatting that much….it would make your jaws ache like hell!!! It’s SO MUCH CHEWING! That amount of food just sounds nauseating….I could never eat that, but of course, I could never throw it up either. The young Al Pacino was a magnificent god. The ravages of age are cruel.

  20. heatheradair says:

    The book was INCREDIBLE, actually.

    After hearing her interviewed on NPR yesterday morning, I picked it up in the afternoon and finished it by last night — I wasn’t expecting her to be so poignant and touching and ARTICULATE. The way she seamlessly incorporated her mother’s letters and journals was beautiful — honestly, the whole thing really surprised me with how intimate and insightful and HONEST it all was.

    Interesting thing about the bulimia — she mentioned that she constructed her entire life around her binge/purge schedule, but that the “first few bites” were always so delicious, she’d tear through the rest of the food just TRYING to reclaim that first sense of “ahhhh” that she got when eating something….which is interesting….

    Incredibly touching book, altogether, really.

  21. DorothyZbornak says:

    I heard her on NPR yesterday talking about the book and her relationship with her mother, who died a few years back. She’s so smart and funny, and totally self-deprecating. Love her.

  22. Kiki says:

    She always seemed so… Mmm I don’t know. Perfect?
    Never imagined she could have had these problems.

  23. wunder says:

    Just reading Keaton’s daily bulimia food list is enough to give someone insulin shock. . .

    Q: If she’s thin from the eating disorder, then how can her small stomach even hold that much food?
    How is there even enough ‘temporary space’ (it’s coming back up) for so much? I dont understand the logistics of this.

    • gg says:

      I know! But now I sure feel a hell of a lot better than I did before for having those 2 small pieces of fruitcake last night!

  24. Carolyn says:

    I like Diane as an actor and expect her book to be very well written and coherent (tx for comments from those who read it). Does she discuss her relationship with Keanu? Forgive me for questioning this…20,000 calories per day? Coverting that to KJ which we use in Aus…that’s 9-10 times the daily recommended consumption. Does she cover why she got into this disorder and how she cured herself?

  25. Nymeria says:

    Oh my god, a young Al Pacino.

  26. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    Re: how it all fit into her stomach — I didn’t read the book, but I just assumed that when she said ate a bucket of chicken and two dinners, she may not have eaten them all at once. She may have thrown up, then eaten some more chicken, then throw up, then eat the dinners. I like that she’s honest about it, despite how unpleasant it is.

    I have no love for Woody Allen. After his affair with his teenage stepdaughter, I can’t watch his movies without the “ick” factor ruining it.

    But the Godfather actors? They were all pretty handsome back in the day – Pacino, Duvall, De Niro, Caan.

  27. BB says:

    Bulimics get their sickness down to an artform. I understand all the “hows” and “buts”, but trust me, a bulimic will find a way with everything. Me and my two best friends used to be bulimic for years – We had established what the easiest foods to purge were, what to drink with hard to purge foods to make them easier, how long to wait so it all comes up, how soon to purge so as not to put weight on etc etc. It makes me sad thinking about how careful, controlling and efficient we were in our sickness.

    Also, bulimia is hard to detect in others unless you really know what to look for. Bulimics will go out of their way to disguise their behavior. Typical strategies include scheduling your meals before a “shower” (this way you don’t just excuse to go to the toilet everytime you eat and also the running shower disguises any sound); Exercising a lot (or pretending to) so that people think that this is the reason you don’t get fat; eating in secluded places (and yes, that includes toilet cubicles) and countless other “tricks”.

    You cannot detect bulimia just by weight loss. I was a bulimic for 10 years and maintained an average weight throughout, I never got really thin.

  28. Amanda G says:

    Did she have something with Steve Martin too? I remember seeing pictures of them looking cozy years ago.

  29. angelus says:

    This is a really touching and terrible story. I admire her for getting through it, imagine she still has to struggle (eating disorders never completely go away), and am not surprised at all she told her story with grace, humor, wit, etc. Always loved her, always watch her films. Even the more recent ones where she plays the quintessential annoying mom character.

  30. teehee says:

    About bringing up her feelings for Woody– I think its a brden to bear, to care for someone and not be able to act on it, so at least offer her the harmless option to confess that she still regards him. It has haunted her apparently for decades, so while it may be better to offer him the peace she doesnt have, at least she is being honest, and sayign something positive, and there is no harm behind that. It just happens sometimes.

  31. iseepinkelefants says:

    Wow I thought it was the other way around, that she dumped Woody. No idea she was pining for him. I like Woody’s movies and books, don’t care for his personal life (not interested in it, because it tends to ruin the movies), but Diane is too good for him. Way too good for him.

    I’ve never been a huge Keaton fan, I’ve liked the movies she’s been in (Baby Boom being a classic), but she always seemed so dense in her Allen movies and she reminded me of a friend I had growing up, who annoyed me to no end with her “aw shucks” I’m so dumb, yet bubbly schtick. However after learning a bit about her I could warm up to her.

    I was putting off reading her Daily Mail article, but I’m definitely going to look into it. It’s always endearing when someone decides to be brutally honest about themselves.

  32. Boo says:

    I love Diane, but gah! What a mess!

    And i am ashamed to say that this line made my day:

    “The only part I don’t believe is the pound cake. I would think pound cake would be really hard to barf up. But then again, if it is floating around in all that cream pie and soda, it could come up pretty easily.”

  33. sd says:

    It is very possible to eat 20,000 calories a day,especially if you’re bulimic and purging. After my brother was killed, I ate 10-15,000 calories a day and gained 30lbs in 1 month b/c I wasn’t throwing it up. Honestly, I do not know how my stomach did not literally explode. I was in incredible, unexplainable pain at how he died and the hole inside my heart and soul was an abyss, because no matter how much I ate, it was never enough. I felt so empty and heartbroken.

  34. wunder says:

    Very sorry about your brother and everything you’ve been through. Glad you’re here:)

  35. Penguin says:

    I don’t know why people do this it doesn’t work. More calories are absorbed than thrown up.

  36. e.non says:

    she is teh awesome and always will be.

    and speaking of al pacino … what in the hell has happened to him? he’s looking completely whacky these days…

  37. sd says:

    @wunder~that was very kind, thank you so much.

  38. Orange Cone says:

    my mother LOVES(D) Al Pacino that she named my little brother Tony after Scarface (I know, I know)…she was pregnant with him at the time.

    and Woody Allen has a hot bod?? lol- who knew?

  39. danielle says:

    OMG, I cannot imagine eating that much. It’s so sad to fall in love with someone who doesn’t love you back – partially because if they don’t love you too I guess they are not worth that much effort.

  40. daisydoodle says:

    she’s probably a big bowl of crazy….bet she still struggles with food and weight.

  41. Ann says:

    Wonder if it was a coincidence that she was a bulimic while she was with Allen?

  42. Jayna says:

    I can’t wait to get this book. But I don’t believe she means loves Woody in the sense of pining for him or physically wanting him. I think he was a huge part of her young life and has a deep sentimental love for him. I saw her in an interview and she said Pacino was her great love.

    I adore Diane. She looks amazing at 65. You just know she’s a great mom.

  43. CindyBman says:

    I didn’t take her comments about still loving Woody Allen in a weird way. To me, it just sounds like a first love that never worked-out the way she had hoped.

    It’s like my first love — it was a relationship (ha, he never did *date* me) that didn’t work, he never felt the same about me, and I still love him.

    Now, I have moved on — it’s been 25 years. I have a wonderful husband whom I love even more than I ever loved the First Love Guy. But FLG will always have a place in my heart – whether he deserves it or not.


  44. Callumna says:

    She’s still unnaturally thin and I’m sure she’d agree, neurotic.

    I just hope she’s well but it’s doubtful.

    Like hungry Mary Kate and Ashley.

  45. Cirque28 says:

    Diane Keaton is beautiful and so brave to speak this openly. I hope young women take comfort in knowing that life can get much, much better.

    Agreed all around on the young Pacino. OMG. The first time I saw Serpico, I was amazed at what a hot fox he used to be.

  46. becky says:

    What does it mean when someone’s screen-name is navy blue rather than black? I see one every once in a while.

  47. dan says:

    Bulemia is easy to hide. people only see what they want to see. People who are bulemic throw up everything they eat and it gets as bad as even their beverages. When you are bulemic it doesn’t matter how hard a food may be to throw up, you still go through it. It is an emotionally and physically painful disorder that does horrible things to your body for life. You scratch your throat, lose your voice, get sick often, heartburn, reflux, possibly throat cancer, ulcers of the stomach and mouth. The list goes on.

  48. Ally says:

    I glanced at that in the bookstore, but went “nah.” I’m not so keen on her in her bowler hat-wearing years.

    I like the writing style in the excerpt, though: conversational but insightful (and gossipy). I may get the e-book.

    I remember an old Elle article when she was dating Pacino and he was obsessing about his Shakespeare adaptation. It didn’t even get released until about 10-15 years later. He was a cute hipster in the 70s, but by then, in the 90s, he sounded like a pretentious insecure, self-involved tool. Judging by Woody, too, I guess that was her type.

    I love Annie Hall so much. It’s such a great romantic comedy, so many great lines (“Are we driving through plutonium, Max?”), Paul Simon, and yet it makes such wonderful sense that they break up at the end. (And I never get tired of pointing out that the tiny figure at the end is Sigourney Weaver.)

  49. ER says:

    @Katyusha – Purging associated with bulimia is a LOT different than throwing up because you’re sick from food poisoning or a virus. For one, your stomach doesn’t feel violently nauseated with bulimia as it does with an illness.

  50. Cheyenne says:

    @Becky: If you see someone’s name in blue, it means they have their own website.

  51. MorticiansDoItDeader says:

    @wunder, “Q: If she’s thin from the eating disorder, then how can her small stomach even hold that much food?
    How is there even enough ‘temporary space’ (it’s coming back up) for so much? I dont understand the logistics of this.”

    The less abdominal fat, the more room your stomach has to expand. Look at competitive eaters like Sonja “The Black Widow” Thomas, who weighs 98 lbs. She was able to eat 181 chicken wings in 12 minutes and out eat 200+ lb men. Here’s a list of some of her other accomplishments:
    * July 15, 2010, San Juan, Puerto Rico: 53 Taco Bell Soft Tacos in 12 minutes. 
    * November 29, 2006, Somerset, England: 46 Mince Pies in
    * August 12, 2006, Hong Kong: 176 Steamed Chinese Vegetable Dumplings in 12 minutes.
    * June 24, 2006, Lynchburg, VA: 60 Virginia Ham Biscuits in 8 minutes, establishing a standard for that food.
    * February 11, 2006, Long Beach, CA: 8 lbs, 2 oz of Chili Cheese Fries in 10 minutes.
    * December 30, 2005, Orlando, FL, Tater Tots: 250 (+) in 5 minutes.
       September 5, 2005, Knoxville, TN: 57 Krystal Burgers in 8 minutes: an American Record.
    * August 13, 2005, Kennebunkport, Maine: 11.4 pounds of Lobster meat (44 soft shell lobsters) in 12 minutes.
    * March 20, 2005, Metairie, LA, Acme Oysters: 46 Dozen (552) in 10 minutes, breaking her previous mark of 36 dozen set last year; a few minutes later she set an endurance record of eating 624 Oysters. 

    @sd, so sorry for your loss.

  52. Willworkforfood says:

    Darn-It!! No way, don’t believe it. I love her, and her looks. Totally impossible(!hope) If she was addicted to that extent. It would show on her skin, which no tabloid, or anyone that I have seen, detected… AND!, I hope (?). if it was true, she would not tell at this point. We need positive infuences.

  53. sosuzy says:

    Love Diane, Love her honesty

  54. NM9005 says:

    I need to watch the Godfather trilogy again!

    Poor Keaton, the hell she has been through. This really makes me want to read her book but any biographies in which the celeb has a hand, tend to be written to maintain the legacy but still I’ll give it a shot.

  55. jc126 says:

    I love her. I hope she meets some wonderful guy and finds true love with him.

  56. JaneWonderfalls says:

    Diane Keaton is my fav! She has always had so much class and sincerity to her. I’m glad she is doing well now. It’s so easy for any of us to struggle with food, addiction, weight etc. Glad she is speaking on it, maybe it could help women and men all over 🙂

  57. Louise says:

    To several of the folks who don’t believe it: most bulimics are either at, or above “ideal” body weight. Having had dealt with bulimia for several years, to the point of drinking ipecac on a regular basis – it has very little to do with self-control: that would be anorexia. It’s often about low self esteem, indulgence and punishment, which feeds back into the low self-esteem. There have been connections made to issues with seratonin levels (also involved in depression), as well as with often with (but not always) early sexual abuse. The phrase I often heard was “there is nothing wrong with you: it is a common response to an uncommon problem”. It is a multi-dimensional illness that usually requires a similarly multi-pronged approach to recovery.

    I say kudos to her as someone with a ‘public profile’ discussing it – it may encourage more people who think that they are alone to seek help. I was fortunate enough to have people around me who spotted it and responded with support the instant I admitted I had a problem.

  58. ruthm says:

    I also applaud her candor. I’ve worked in fashion/film for 15 years and I can tell you bulimia is rampant among girls and women (and guys) of all ages. Since it seems to carry the same sense of shame that alcoholism did 25 years ago, it is typically under-reported and untreated – often with terrible consequences. Openness about this disease can and will help people.

  59. HoustonGrl says:

    @sd: so sorry for your loss. Glad you’re here to share with us.

    I kind of love Diane after reading this. She’s refreshingly open and honest. Oh, and Pacino, who can blame her! I always found him so attractive, even as he aged.

  60. Mrs. Odie 2 says:

    I saw Matt Lauer interview her on Today. She hasthis annoying way of saying “No, no, no, no” the whole time the other person is talking. It’s like a tick. It made me uncomfortable.

  61. kibbles says:

    It’s very easy to hide. I suspect I’ve met quite a few women in my time who have eating disorders and are addicted to exercising. It’s easy to hide because unlike someone who is obese where we equate fat with overeating and laziness, our society reveres skinniness and it is often equated to being healthy even if someone is stick thin. I still see it today in my workplace. There is a woman in her 30s who always calls herself fat even though she is a size 6. She has stopped eating meat not for ethical reasons but because she is afraid it will make her fatter. She pretends that she is sick to avoid eating lunch with coworkers because she often skips meals or just eats yogurt or an apple for lunch and dinner. She also pushes herself to extremes at the gym despite not taking in enough calories. It’s unsurprising that she always looks tired but to someone who doesn’t know her she looks like she’s at a healthy weight. This is why being chubby is oftentimes healthier than the people who are often used to represent what healthy should look like. If Diane Keaten had never told us about her bulimia, most women would go on assuming that she was healthy and would envy her body. Just as the Victoria Secret models who starve themselves for weeks to get their enviable figures. The entertainment industry has succeeded in f’ing up our perceptions of what is healthy and attractive.

  62. teehee says:

    @CindyBman– amen and cheers… there is just somethign lingering about the first person you fall for- even if they arent right for you, or even anywhere near to you… mayeb thats what makes it all the more lingering- you are left just to think of all that could have been. 😛 *sigh * 🙂

  63. Ali666 says:

    I went to get the book; BRAVO Diane!!!

    Jack Nicholson is still the coolest planet in the Universe.

    Beatty was too pretty; Woody too ugly; Pacino, is worth a thought…
    I adore Keaton, and “Something’s Gotta Give” is my favorite “smart/funny” flick.

    We all were “diet” crazy, I find 20K calorie day, really hard to read, never mind consume… Ouch!!! I agree with the anorexic “theory” and the movement to ban all Kardashian-mold-itis.

  64. KLaw says:

    I’ve always found her incredibly annoying. I can’t even watch her movies (except the Godfather movies, because she doesn’t talk too much and the Corleones also like to keep her quiet, which I enjoy immensely).

    I can’t believe she dated Pacino. He disappoints me.

  65. Katyusha says:

    @ ER

    I understand – my point is vomiting is a violent act anyway, it takes a lot out of you – whether you do it on purpose or because you’re sick. I’m saying I couldn’t imagine doing it as much as Keaton did.

  66. original kate says:

    she looks great! i love her, strange though she is.

  67. sd says:

    @MorticiansDoItDeader, thank you. It IS amazing what the stomach can hold.

    @HoustonGrl, thanks so much. Hug to you.

  68. annie says:

    That must be why she used to wear gloves all the time-to hide her scarred up knuckles from sticking them down her throat

  69. Susie #1 says:

    Hands can give away a person’s age or even make you look older if you are thin. She has been wearing gloves at times for a few years. I remember when Nora Ephron joked about how she started wearing scarfs when she thought her neck made her look old. Sad. Must hide or cover up of any sign of aging if you’re famous? Anyway, I have always loved Diane Keaton and will be buying her book.

  70. kdog says:

    I know, I know, “How did she stay so skinny if she absorbed some of the calories?”

    Well, the body doesn’t just start digesting right away. I’ve been bulimic for about 6 years and it helps to eat vegetables or slow digesting foods right before a big binge. But for her to go on and eat 20,000 calories a day? That poor girl! That must have hurt like a bitch! 🙁 glad she got the help she needed!