By Stephanie Elliot

This is part four of a five-part series exploring eating disorders.

Part 1: What is an eating disorder?

Part 2: What is anorexia nervosa?

Part 3: What is bulimia?

Part 4: What is binge eating?

Part 5: What is ARFID?

Have you ever gone on a binge? Eaten too much pizza, cake, potato chips and then felt horrible afterward? Yes, people may occasionally binge on a favorite food but when binge-eating takes over your life, your thoughts, your normal ways of eating, then it becomes a serious problem.

Binge-eating is an extension of bulimia; when someone eats to the point of feeling sick and disgusted, that would be classified as binge-eating. Some people who are chronic binge-eaters might not eat in the company of others but then ‘hide’ their favorite foods and eat them secretly – in their bedroom, in their car, at night when everyone else is asleep. Binge-eating, in the moment, feels decadent. A person will start eating their favorite foods for comfort, and then afterward, not feel so great. I’ll admit, in the past, I have gone on some binges when it comes to eating. I remember in college, my roommates and I would splurge on potato chips and raw cookie dough rolls and eat until we physically got sick. This is a problem. This is not healthy eating.

This would be classified as having an eating disorder.

Many people moved toward binge-eating out of emotional distress. Food is comforting. Food tastes good. Food does not talk back or tell you that you’re too fat or not good enough. These are feelings that one might have when thinking about bingeing or actually going on a binge. It’s unhealthy and not safe.

When binge-eaters go through an episode of eating too much, they think that throwing up the food may solve the problem. That is why binge-eating corelates with bulimia. Or, bingers might feel guilty after eating large amounts and decide they need to exercise immediately to get rid of the calories they’ve just taken in. Some bingers might move toward laxatives in order to release their bodies from the foods they have eaten.

All of this is extremely unhealthy and dangerous to your body. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Everything is okay in moderation?” Going on a binge, eating way too much food to the point of being sick, and then feeling guilty about it and trying to get rid of what you’ve eaten is a serious problem. If you think you have a problem with binge eating, tell someone. You can learn to control your impulses, calm your emotions, and stop eating this way.You can learn more about the dangers of binge-eating at NEDA, National Eating Disorder Association. Their helpline (800-931-2237) is also available Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.