Highlighter-pink frosted cupcakes and a treat-interested audience floated about the Kresge Reading Room in Payson Library Thursday Nov. 4 as people gathered to meet and hear from Pepperdine alumna Leslie Landis. She is the author of newly published “The Art of Overeating: A Bellyful of Laughs About Our Food-Phobic Culture.”
Landis calls her creation an “old-fashioned how-to book.” Through this satire she encourages readers to embrace éclairs bond with bacon and hold on to those honey buns.
As she stepped up to the lectern in a ruffled blue blouse and gray cardigan Landis was definitely not what one would expect to be an encourager of gluttony. Her tiny fragile-looking frame was not one that looked like it could sustain eating its way through mountains of mashed potatoes piles of pastrami and baskets of baked goods. She looked more like a well-meaning great-aunt who would try to feed fiber cookies and sugar-free hard candies to passing youngsters but she soon told the audience that her husband Martin Landis was actually the inspiration for her book. If food items were women Martin would be a Casanova.
Before diving into reading a section of her book Landis would prelude it with an anecdote. One included a story about how her father had been concerned with her husband’s eating habits while on a family cruise. Landis’s father asked Martin one night if instead of eating five entrees as he usually did he would instead eat only one plate. Martin agreed but had a secret meeting with their waiter before dinner. As they were all seated around the table the waiter came out with Martin’s one plate— piled high with five entrees worth of food.
Although her husband has a weakness for food Landis assured her audience that he refuses to be the poster child for her book and since its publication he has lost 25 pounds by making healthier eating choices.
The presentation consisted mostly of Landis reading excerpts and was followed by a question-and-answer session. Her advice to readers include ideas such as “a double chin and a spreading midsection are really layers and layers of love” and “in case there is no tomorrow eat everything you can today.”
Landis’s top 10 reasons why everyone should overeat included ideas such as “instant gratification saves time it will help grow the economy” and so “the U.S. can still be No. 1 at something.”
While “The Art of Overeating” makes fun of the diet industry Landis agrees obesity is a problem in America.
“Americans are excessive people frankly she said.
Junior Hayley Johnson was able to laugh about the concept of the book.
I don’t think the audience knew what was going on at first said Johnson. But then we realized it was one giant fat joke.”
Prior to her writing career Landis put her psychology degree to use working with people who suffered from depression and eating disorders. She understands the seriousness of such disorders and encourages all who think they might have a problem to seek help. That being said her tactic for helping people struggling with eating disorder-related depression is to get people to laugh about it. Once they can giggle at the ridiculousness of hiding Snickers bars in their lingerie drawer they may be able to more easily move toward eating in a healthy way.
The event closed with a free raffle for various sweet shops as well as two copies of “The Art of Overeating.” Johnson was the lucky winner of a $25 gift card to See’s Candy.
“The world knows I don’t need to be eating that so now I know what I’m getting my dad for Christmas Johnson said. At least my triathlon coach won’t have to scold me.”
Landis’s own comfort foods include macaroni and cheese chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“My taste buds got stuck at age 13 she laughed.
She also claims the secret to making the perfect PB&J is to use, surprisingly, rye bread and to spread a layer of real butter before the peanut butter and jam.
When asked if anyone should take her book seriously, she replied with, Oh only if they want to weigh six-or-700 pounds.”