Plenty of Americans have contentious relationships with food in that we have to be moderate about something we have more than an abundance of. We want to overindulge, but we know we shouldn’t, so life can be made up of mental games and conditioning in order to maintain a proper relationship with what we put in our mouths. Author Leslie Landis good-naturedly asks why we shouldn’t give into temptation with her ode to gluttony, The Art of Overeating. I found this book at the dollar store right next to a weird pirate story by L. Ron Hubbard, and quickly realized I was treading on dangerous, albeit delicious ground.
The book is light on text and heavy on graphics. It’s not really that well-organized, either. Put it this way: Meme lovers will relish The Art of Overeating.
And why should we want to overeat? Well…as the cliche goes, “Waste not, want not.” In other words, food is thrown out every day, so we should eat more and waste less. Right off the bat, Landis lays out some ground rules:
- Never share, especially in family-style restaurants.
- Never give in to those who try to steal food off your plate.
- Never delay on eating what’s in your doggie bag. You do, after all, need sustenance for the drive home.
- Never be sloppy. Always clean your plate.
- Never discard food. There are always starving children somewhere.
- Never compromise. If you’re somewhere that only serves tiny portions, feel free to order more.
- Anytime is a good time to eat.
- When the sun is up, eat.
- When it’s cloudy, eat.
- When you can’t sleep, eat.
- Emotional eating is just fine.
- Ignore the food police.
- Co-dependency can be just fine, too. After all, it can aid you in overeating.
Also, who knew overeating could be noble? Watching a person consume huge portions may make everyone else self-conscious by comparison, according to Landis. It may even inspire them to not order dessert. And if you want a candy bar, eat the candy bar. You’ve earned it. Just making it to work and back is reason enough to celebrate. Plus, overeating dispels boredom and makes us feel loved, because food is all about love. Even food made by large corporations who don’t get to see people actually eating the food they make. The love is real, folks. The love is real.
See the pattern here? None of this is serious, obviously. The only thing to do when reading this book is to give in to the crazy. And in America we like our crazy.
Speaking of which, Landis is all about enablement of overeating. Namely, make sure everything in your life enables your happy habit. You want a scale you can set to twenty pounds underweight so there’s no guilt involved. And why not have cooking implements in the car…maybe a fridge? Drawers and shelves are also a boon to stashing secret goodies, as are filing cabinets, as long as there’s also another place to stash the wrappers. Like another drawer, shelf, or cabinet, not a trash can, because all evidence must be closely guarded.
Oh, and when traveling, make sure one’s carry-alls are stuffed with goodies. You’ve heard “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” right? Well, Landis says to leave the clothes and take the food. Don’t stop at itty-bitty wraps and sandwiches, either. Landis recommends thinking big. As in, an entire pot roast or a whole pie. Gotta have enough to share, ya know? Your fellow coach passengers will thank you. No word on how to manage the eats for the return trip, but getting to one’s destination fully stuffed is what counts. I’m guessing chili or baked beans wouldn’t be ideal in these situations, if anyone gets my drift.
Travel brings us to the Overeater’s Valhalla: Vacation. You’re treating yourself to an excursion, so why deny yourself regional cuisine? You deserve it. You’re on vacation. It’s part of the experience.
If vacation is Valhalla, cruise ships and resorts are Odin’s special table. Think about it. Mountain ranges of food. All day. All night. All ripe for the noshing. Cruise ships are where, as Landis says, gaining ten pounds is totally normal.
Naturally, all the food in the world won’t matter a hill of beans (heh heh) if one doesn’t know how to pick and choose. As in, load up. Don’t skimp on sauces and dressings. Take full advantage of the bread bowl and the soup and salad courses. Order several dishes in each category and tell people you’re doing research. And don’t forget the extras like adding chicken and shrimp to an entree. They may cost more, but what of it?
Don’t forget, there are nutritional benefits to overeating as well. If one Little Debbie’s cake gives you seven percent of your daily zinc allowance, why not eat fourteen? Overeating does a body good. And if veggies and fruit are added to dessert, like maybe a carrot cake, so much the better. Veg and fruit are healthy, right? So why not find more ways to eat them? It benefits the kids, too–kids whose plates are filled with delicious desserts, they’re going to be happier and more well-behaved. Well, at least until the sugar kicks in, anyway. Think nothing of bribing kids with sweets, either–all’s fair in food and parenting.
The only thing that puts a slight pin in the overeating racket is that Landis warns us about the darker side of food. A candy bar may contain an average of eight insect legs. Peanuts are used in making dynamite. In order to gauge ripeness, a cranberry must be bounced. To the true overeater, however, all this matters little, because they’re gonna die happy anyway.
I guess the takeaway (pardon the pun, or not) from The Art of Overeating is that we need to lighten up. Overindulgence once in a very long while isn’t a bad thing as long as we stick to good habits the rest of the time. The temptation after reading Landis’s book will be, of course, to remove the tongue from the cheek so that something yummy can go there.
All righty, now that I’ve made everyone ravenous (you’re welcome), I’m gonna go eat a quesadilla. Thanks for reading, all, and I hope to see you on Sunday, because there’s a surprise blogathon in store…