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How to speak up about diet culture in your friendships

Diet culture is the worst—and that's a fact. But thanks to the professional dietitians and therapists taking to social media, diet culture has been exposed for what it truly is: a harmful part of American culture that makes us prioritize our appearance over *all* else. Over our wellbeing, health and even factual nutritional advice. 

It's ridden throughout America's beauty standards that idolize thinness. Its subliminal messages are woven into marketing tactics and plastered onto billboard signs. Diet culture can even be hidden in our everyday conversations. So often groups of young girls comment on their bodies and eating habits in a negative light, promoting their internalized fears directly stemming from diet culture. 

Wish you could ditch all the body and diet talk? Follow these steps to effectively speak up about diet culture in your friendships. 

1. Open up to your friends about why diet culture is unhealthy

We understand that isn't as easy as it sounds, but it's the best way to spark a conversation about diet culture. If you feel comfortable enough with the people who surround you, discuss why you want to avoid topics like dieting and body negativity. Next time you or your friends run into some part of diet culture, such as a bogus fad diet on IG, point it out and express how the diet makes you feel. True friends will be happy to lend heads to your issues with diet culture. 

RELATED: A guide to intuitive eating at home

2. Spread awareness about the danger of diet culture

After opening up to your friends, start spreading awareness about the realities and dangers of diet culture. Explain how that "quick weight loss hack" on TikTok promotes a toxic relationship with food. Speak up about how constantly judging your body wrecks your mental health. And thanks to modern technology, you can also share reliable sources of info from social media and podcasts with your friends to further educate others. 

RELATED: Size doesn't define style. How to find the clothes meant to fit *your* body

3. Set healthy limits around "body talk"

Boundaries, boundaries and more boundaries. Setting strict boundaries around topics that make you uncomfortable, especially a harmful subject such as diet culture, is crucial. Ensure your friends understand and respect your want to avoid certain matters of diet and body talk. 

4. Leave the conversation

If all else fails, it's best to remove yourself from the situation. You need to separate yourself from conversations that might trigger you throughout your journey to food freedom and body confidence. Leave that group chat if your friends constantly make comments about their bodies and others. Your mental health comes first any day, girl—and your real friends will understand. 

RELATED: So, you gained weight. Here's how to accept it and move forward

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by Cara Lamina | 8/7/2021
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