For Natalie, it started in high school. She had always been a hearty eater, but increasingly, when life got stressful, she turned to food for comfort.
At first it was relatively harmless, she says, but in college, as her life pressures grew, her habit escalated to a full-fledged eating disorder called binge eating.
"I would maybe eat lunch with friends and eat a normal-size lunch," she says. "And then after lunch, when the people would leave, I would go and get more food and I would eat until I was very full or just couldn't eat any more."
Natalie, who doesn't want her last name used, remembers one of her biggest binges: two pints of ice cream and then "a sleeve of Ritz crackers with peanut butter, Triscuits, some cheese from the refrigerator, maybe some cream cheese straight out of the carton, maybe some mayonnaise right out of the jar."
While many of us overeat but never reach this extreme, doctors are becoming alarmed at the number of Americans who are becoming binge eaters. Binge eating has now become America's most common eating disorder, affecting one in 35 women, making it three times as common as anorexia nervosa, according to new research.