Look at the word’s two parts, “pro” and “vision.” It means looking into the future, predicting what needs you’ll likely have, and providing for those needs. I can think of no need as easy to predict as the need for food. There’s likely never been a day in your life where you didn’t desire to eat food.
Why provision? We have access to resources in this moment that won’t be so easy to come by later on. My visual image of the word provision is a hard-scrabble pioneer striking off on a journey west in a wagon train. They packed most of that wagon full of food, things like guns needed to kill food, pots needed to cook food, or storage containers to keep other critters from eating their food.
Wagon trains put high priority on foods which could make the journey. There was no sushi or fresh romaine chopped salads on the menu. They took hard tack (a kind of stale, hard biscuit), salt pork and such like which would stay good for months. I’m not suggesting you eat salt pork, but I am saying it’s useful to think about the physical, material realities of your day and think about the most practical ways to feed yourself with the time and money at your disposal. If you truly have the money to order delivery for lunch every day and that’s what allows you to stay fed and healthy while meeting your other commitments then that’s great. I definitely have those days. If you delay eating until you’re starving because you feel guilty about spending the money, that’s not so great. As with everything, being mindful of your choice and honoring your body’s signals promptly is the key.
My lesson about food landed when I was walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. My needs were the most basic – eat when I was hungry, drink when I was thirsty, rest when I was tired, find a soft bed to sleep in each night. If I was feeling extra luxurious I could wash out my socks in the bathroom sink. I didn’t even have cause to think about where to walk, given the path indicated only one option, go forward. I did a little bit of exploring each day, but for the most part surrendered to the exquisite boredom of putting one foot in front of the other.
I learned how to feed myself in this boring situation. Modern life gives you no reasons to be bored anymore, with all of its social media messages and inboxes to continually check and notifications constantly pushing your dopamine lever. All this mental distraction overpowers subtler signals such as hunger. Only by allowing myself to be bored could I engage with those hunger signals promptly. What happens in a distracted mind is that the hunger signal has to get really loud and the need urgent before it can break through to our conscious awareness. The point of this exercise is to strengthen the neural pathways so they will trigger sooner. You want to be able to feel hunger when you’re hungry, not have to wait until you’re starved. It’s a super simple game. Notice food, eat. Notice your growling stomach, eat. Think the word hungry, eat. Now, let’s not go overboard and use this as an excuse to eat half a tres leches cake or four cheeseburgers. The point is to find your real hunger point. Not too starving, not eating when you’re already full, but eating when your body signals it’s time for food.
Since you’ve already provisioned the healthy food, you won’t have a problem dipping into the bad snacks… right? Seriously though, I think providing the foods you want to eat and not letting yourself get ravenous will make it easier to stay on the straight and narrow.
It’s okay. You can do this.