top of page

Do you really need that beer?

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Unpacking the mechanics of stress and coping behaviours. Simple tips for healthier habits with only little effort.

Stressed person

'I really need a beer after this long week'.

Now replace 'beer' with: chips, chocolate, the whole season of the latest tv series. You can choose almost anything. Is this you?

This might be a sign that you are stressed and that you are using eating, drinking or a tv series as a coping mechanism.

There is nothing wrong with the activity of drinking, eating or watching tv in itself. However, if we do these activities unconsciously and over-consume them, they might over time affect our health.

Stress eating & drinking

When we are stressed, we are steered by our reptilian brain, that quickly reacts to emotions, rather than rationally processing the situation. This is when we might have impulsive behaviours, that do not necessarily serve our long term goals. We end up consuming unhealthy foods or drinks or informations and, typically, we end up in a circle of unhelpful behaviours.

Stress eating is one of the common coping strategies, that many of us use to deal with stressful situations. We use food as a reward for having made it through a tough day or period. And this is why we typically choose more sugary or processed foods. They provide short-term gratification. But the choice comes from a place of unawareness, not a real need for nutrition.

So how to build awareness and break the cycle?

Recognising when we are coping

To start making better choices we must bring awareness to this mechanism. We must therefore understand how to recognise coping behaviours. Here are two simple cues.

When a choice is triggered as a coping mechanism, it might feel like a urge that needs to be satisfied right away: 'I want that snack and I want it now'. This is in contrast to a real need for nourishment, that might feel like a sneaky sensation building up over time.

When a choice is taken from a place of coping, it might also leave us feeling bad: 'I wish I had not eaten all that chocolate'. When a real need is satisfied, we typically feel nurtured and joyful.

Breaking the cycle

Our coping mechanisms have been built over time through a circle of repetition and reward. We have used this strategy again and again, and they have become habits that might not serve what we want for ourselves in the long term.

To break the circle of unhelpful behaviours we must not only bring awareness to them, but also overwrite them with behaviours that serve our long term goals, e.g. eating healthier, drinking less alcohol. As we keep making the 'good choices' again and again we start rewiring our brain through a process called neuroplasticity.

Simple tips for healthier habits

Rewiring our brain to healthier choices is possible. It all starts by taking these choices again and again. In my eBook Distress & Eat less, I give ideas and guidance for bringing awareness to your current habits and building healthier ones. You can download it here for free. Enjoy and leave a comment below on your new habits!

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page