WJTV News Channel 12 - Special Report: Binge Eating

Special Report: Binge Eating

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Jackson, Mississippi -

Binge Eating Disorder is a serious eating problem in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. It is the most common eating disorder in the U.S. It affects more than 8-million people.

Gwen Ross is a binge eater, "Why do I think about food all the time? I'm a bad person. I'm embarrassed. I'm ashamed."

Gwen has a problem, "I will start eating and then sometimes it can continue for weeks."

For years, Gwen has tried to stop, "There are times when I just think, well I won't eat at all."

She says those times don't last long. Soon she is binge eating again, "I'm just so tired of starting over."

"Binge eating disorder and all eating disorders are debilitating psychiatric illnesses," says Jackson Psychologist Dr. Marta Cain. She treats Gwen and other patients with eating disorders.

"One of the things that we are learning with all our new abilities with functional MRIs is that our brain is very, very plastic," says Cain. "That means that we can engage in negative behavior or unhealthy behaviors..our brain adjusts to that. So that is one of the reasons that early treatment for eating disorders, Binge Eating Disorder included is so important."

Gwen is 61 years-old. She tells me she missed out on a lot of her life, "The years of not getting out and feel like I was contributing to the world."

Dr. Cain knows certain things can trigger binge eaters. She helps her patients identify and avoid those triggers.

Gwen told me an unbelievable story about Valentine's Day, "I better go by this bakery that makes these petit fours before they are sold out. So I got six petit fours, a piece of Red Velvet cake, a strawberry cake, caramel cake and I started eating the caramel cake with my fingers in the car."

Gwen said guilt took over, "So I couldn't finish the petit fours so I put them in their Styrofoam container, put them in the garbage can and that particular day. I usually put my dog's poo-poo in the outdoor garbage can but I had put it in the kitchen garbage can. I knew if I didn't put some dishwashing detergent on these foods that I would eat it. so I put it in the garbage can with the dishwashing detergent on it and then for good measure I put the dog, the bag of poo-poo in the styrofoam container and closed it. And then I thought I better do that because there might be some piece that I'll come back later even with the detergent on it."

Gwen's story may surprise you but not Dr. Cain, "It's not just about food."

She knows Treating binge eating is not easy.

Gwen decided to talk to me for one reason, "You are not a bad person. and don't give up. there is help available."

In May, the 5th edition of the American Psychiatric Association's manual of mental disorders will include binge-eating disorder. Doctors say this now validates the suffering of the millions of men and women who endure this condition.

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