Help for eating disorders is near

It seems like every time we turn on TV, we see reports of a young celebrity developing an eating disorder.

But even though the term "eating disorder" is thrown around a lot these days, do any of us really know what it means? If we live in the Modesto area, do we know where to go for help?

Most of us are aware of the two main types of eating disorders: anorexia and bulimia. But there are many others that are less known, like binge-eating, where people feel the need to consume large quantities of food at one sitting.

Luckily, there are resources here.

The Center for Human Services is a nonprofit organization that has several programs available for helping those with eating disorders. The organization has free support groups, available to anyone struggling with an eating disorder or other body-image issue.

There also are groups for family and friends of someone with an eating disorder. In addition, the center has a body-acceptance program funded by the United Way that helps teach participants discover the true meaning of "beauty."

The center started offering support groups for eating disorders about five years ago because organizers felt resources were lacking locally. Teens who needed help didn't have anywhere to turn except expensive private counseling services.

The Center for Human Services also offers community and school presentations on topics such as warning signs and causes of eating disorders, prevention and the different treatments available. The center has resource and referral services, listing professional dieticians, medical doctors and therapists who specialize in helping teens learn healthy eating habits.

Another place to receive help with eating disorders is Meghan's Place, a Modesto outpatient center. Meghan's Place offers support groups, including an intuitive eating group and an empowerment group for young women.

Many teens face eating disorders and are thankful for the help provided. One Modesto-area teen who did not want to be named had an eating disorder and was helped by Meghan's Place.

"I developed an eating disorder mainly because of anxiety and stress that appeared to me in food," said the girl, who struggled with anorexia. "I became really tired all the time, very moody and even had my hair fall out on people's desks at school."

It wasn't long until she was admitted to a hospital, where a doctor revealed that her vital signs were dangerously low. The effects of anorexia had quickly taken a toll on her body.

And, because she sought help, she is on the road to recovery.

For more information on the Center for Human Services, call 526-1440 or visit www.centerforhuman For more information on Meghan's Place or the support groups it offers, contact Signe Darpinian at 491-2197 or Margaret Hunter at 575-3324, or visit