On a winter evening in 1992, Michelle Morand was working up a sweat at the gym to burn off all of the calories she had consumed earlier. She would often exercise vigorously for hours at a time after one of her eating binges.
At the end of her exhaustive workout, Morand happened across a nutritional brochure that asked such questions as "Do you feel controlled by food?" and "Do you eat when you are physically not hungry?"
She considered all of the questions carefully and then to her surprise the 32-year-old recalls"answering ‘yes’ to six of them,"That’s when she realized her poor body image and compulsive eating habits were neither normal nor healthy.
Shortly after she had made her startling revelation, she tried to seek out help but there wasn’t any to be found. There was plenty of help for people suffering from anorexia and bulimia, but no one seemed concerned at that time about Morand’s particular problem.
"Seven years ago, compulsive eating was seen as lazy," she explains. So after a considerable search, she finally found a specialist in Vancouver who she visited with for six months. It was during her counselling sessions with the specialist that Morand decided she wanted to help others who were afflicted with her problem. She returned to school and completed her master’s degree in counselling from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington in 1995.
About four years later she decided there was a desperate need for a clinic that focused on compulsive eating and so she "dipped" into her savings to open the Community Eating Disorder and Related Issues Counselling Centre (CEDRIC).
Originally, the plan was for the centre to specialize only in compulsive eating but Morand decided that there should also be a focus on other problems. The clinic provides counselling to people who suffer from all eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia. Staff members also address other issues that typically accompany eating disorders like low self-esteem, depression and abuse. All four of the counsellors who are currently on staff at the clinic have recovered from a disordered eating pattern.
CEDRIC sees about 100 patients per year. The centre provides group and solo counselling as well as physical therapy such as Reiki and zero balancing, a technique designed to align energy fields. And while Morand admits that some people might dismiss such therapy as "airy fairy", she says she provides it because there is a demand.
"So many of our clients saw a significant jump in their recovery with the use of this therapy," she explains.
Sandra (who asked that we not use her real name) is a recovering compulsive eater who has been meeting with counsellors at CEDRIC for the past two years. "It’s been overpowering, life altering," says the 34-year-old. "It’s been amazing overall." She learned about the clinic after a nutritionist at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital recommended it. She says she has been trying to cope with compulsive eating all of her life.
"I always knew it was a problem, but it got to a point where I didn’t know what I was doing to myself," Johnson explains. "(The CEDRIC centre) gave me the basic understanding as to why I was doing what I was doing."
She says that the clinic went beyond any other help she’s sought out. "It’s not a bandage," she says of the help she has received, "it’s a cure."
Morand has set high goals for herself in terms of the clinic. One day, she hopes to help other people like Johnson, all across the country. "Our goal is to educate the community about prevention. I have a greater vision than just the clinic in Victoria," she says. "It’s just the start."
The CEDRIC centre is offering a workshop for parents who want to raise their kids free of eating disorders. The workshop is aimed to educate parents about harmful eating patterns they might put on their children.
"Some parents may have their own concerns about weight that may not have been addressed," says the centre’s founder Michelle Morand. "But our intention isn’t to dump on parents for doing it properly or not."
The workshop is aimed to give parents the tools to guide their children towards a healthy relationship with their bodies and food. It will take place Saturday (Nov. 23) from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the CEDRIC Centre, 205-661 Burnside Road East. It’s recommended to call and reserve a spot. For more information call 383-0797.
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