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Ampersands & Addiction

Call it cleansing, or organizing, or restructuring — call it whatever you want, but since we moved (for the first time in 18 years), I’ve been in something of a reminiscent sorta-mood. So much so that I decided to go back into the Barbie Archives and pull out some of my favorite blogs. This one never got much “airplay” because I didn’t have much of a readership then, so I’m hoping it will find new legs with my Facebook Friends! Enjoy what I originally wrote in 2009…It’s still good. I mean it! – Cari

This & That: Nearly Derailed By An Ampersand*


*An “ampersand” is the proper name of the symbol you use between two, separate items, to make them one, compound item:  “Salt & Pepper,” “Bert & Ernie,” and “Tea & Crumpetts”

“University study finds ampersands leading cause of obesity in US;

poor use of punctuation mark linked to high BMIs.”


Can you imagine surfing the web one day and seeing that headline on a major news site like Foxnews.com or CNN.com?

Okay, I know that headline sounds silly, but here’s where I’m going with it: Yesterday I caught myself musing that I should be eating a donut with my decaf coffee!While I did not act on this impulse, it did get me thinking: What caused me to make the gigantic leap from “coffee” to “donuts” so quickly? I thought I was cured of those temptations. Maybe I’d forgotten about that neatly paved, well-marked, 5-lane wide, permanent “coffee & donuts”  neuro-pathway in my brain. Whatever the case, as it turns out, the ampersand problem was much bigger than donuts.

The longer I thought about it, the more I realized this innocent little punctuation mark could actually mean the difference between success and sabotage in my weight loss After Life!  I mean, it’s not like overusing a comma, or something, where someone just has pause a little longer! This deceptively simple little squiggly mark (just above the number “7” on your keyboard) has the power to permanently combine two, separate things, and turn them into one, potentially dangerous combination!

If that sounds melodramatic, think about this: We are conditioned from the moment we are born to experience food in “twos” (applesauce & bananas, strained turkey & peas, lamb & rice). This concept continues to be reinforced as we mature: Macaroni & Cheese; Hamburgers & French Fries, Ice Cream & Apple Pie. Eventually, we are convinced that we cannot have one thing without the other: Steak & Lobster, Champagne & Strawberries, Bagels & Cream Cheese.

It gets to the point where we are unable to watch a movie without eating popcorn (& butter), have a campfire without making s’mores (& hot chocolate), get through Halloween without eating chocolate (& candy corn), or celebrate Christmas without baking cookies (& fudge)! Events become inexorably linked to the combination of foods we consume until eventually the memories are defined by the combination of food & event.

Morning = Coffee & Donuts. Lunch = Hamburger & French Fries. Dinner = Meat & Potatoes.

The better the combination, the better the memory. “Oh my gosh, I can’t remember a Thanskgiving where I had a yummier pumpkin pie & Cool Whip!!” “Can you remember a better Sourdough Bread Bowl & Chili than the one we at at that little restaurant in San Francisco?” “Those BBQ ribs at the company picnic would have been tasteless without those bake beans!” And on it goes….

Armed with this revelation, I decided to make a quick list of common food pairings,  just so I could see how pervasive the ampersand problem was. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Lime & Tequila
  • Bacon & Eggs
  • Beer & Pretzels
  • Spaghetti & Meatballs
  • Hamburgers & French Fries
  • Nachos & Salsa
  • Coffee & Donuts
  • Coke & A Smile <– that’s only 1/2 bad
  • FIsh & Chips
  • Cake & Ice Cream
  • Cheese & Crackers
  • Bagels & Cream Cheese
  • Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
  • Turkey & Stuffing
  • Pork Chops & Applesauce (any Peter Brady fans out there?)
  • Curds & Whey <– Hey, that’s a good one!
  • Peas & Carrots <– healthy!
  • Popcorn & Movies
  • Chips and Dip
  • Corned Beef & Cabbage
  • Mom & Apple Pie <– Again, 1/2 of this is okay
  • Buffalo Wings & Ranch Dressing
  • Latte & Biscotti
  • Champagne & Strawberries
  • Biscuits & Gravy
  • Pancakes & Sausage
  • Green Eggs & Ham <– Dr. Seuss fans?
  • Vanilla Ice Cream & Hersheys Syrup
  • Dinner & Dessert


Did any of those resonate with you? I’m guessing you can come up with about a hundred more “combos”, but here’s what I want you to do: Take a moment to think about how often that little ampersand has threatened to undermined your post weight loss success.  Did the necessity of unhealthful food combos nearly derail your family gathering or holiday experience?

  • When you planned your 4th of July event, did you automatically include hot dogs & buns?
  • Last Thanksgiving, did you insist on eating turkey & stuffing (because you deserved it)?
  • Did your Super Bowl party experience include buffalo chicken wings & ranch dressing?

Now that you know about this little ampersand, how will it shape your future? Here’s what I think: To be successful in this WLS After Life, we have to begin recognizing, accepting and breaking those old habits that revolve around things we THOUGHT were eating imperatives. Old habits die hard, so this will take some brain power; but like mindful eating, we must learn to identify those ampersands before they sabotage our success!

I say we kick that ampersand to the curb and replace it with an EXCLAMATION POINT!!!! What do you think?


1 Weight Loss » Blog Archive » Ampersands & Addiction { 09.21.09 at 10:30 am }

[…] Original post by Gastric Bypass Barbie […]

2 Melinda { 02.25.10 at 2:30 pm }

Mine ampersand moments are usually while eating a protein muffin or a sugar free cookie. I always think “A glass of milk sure would top this off.”

3 Nikkie { 05.29.12 at 12:01 pm }

How about “pig out” & “pack it on?” (or did I “miss the pernt?)

Great article, Babe. Really “food for thought!” ~0;-)

4 Bariatric pacient { 08.10.12 at 2:43 pm }

Great article, but somehow it made me hungry.

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