Eating Positive at the Barilla Pasta World Championships

*I have been sent to Italy by Barilla for the Pasta World Championships but as always, all opinions are my own.

There are a lot of eating-associated ‘rules’ right now. No gluten. No dairy. No carbs. No sugar. No No No. I don’t think though that eating was ever meant to be so negative. Food shouldn’t be associated with shame, guilt, punishment, or restriction. It should bring us joy. Even if you want to lose weight, or you’re trying to eat healthier, or you hate vegetables. 

Food. Should. Be. Positive. 

Right now, I’m in Italy with Barilla for the Barilla Pasta World Championships! This year is the seventh annual championship, which brings together chefs from countries all over the world to compete for the title of pasta master. This year, a Canadian chef, Chef Angela Villalta, is here repping Canada (it’s only the second time ever that a Canadian chef is here!), so I am so excited to be here and share mine and Chef Angela’s journey.

My first meal in Milan. I took myself out for pasta and wine.
Here’s a fruit and vegetable stand near my hotel. I may never leave!
Look at those artichokes!


This year’s competition theme is Eating Positive, so it really got me thinking about the tips I can provide to you guys on positive eating, which I’ve shared below.

Here are my top four tips for making eating a positive experience.

Try new foods.

Most people gravitate towards the same foods every week when they shop (I’m guilty of this too!), but doing that may mean that you’re missing out on trying foods you could really love. Get inspiration by looking at some food magazines, or browsing the supermarkets/farmer’s market for new foods. Don’t worry about not knowing how to prepare them – either ask the grocer or, look recipes up online. 

Eat what you love.

This is a big one. There are a lot of diet ‘don’ts’ out there, carbs being one of the most popular. It’s unfortunate that so many people are scared out of eating foods that are perfectly healthy and enjoyable. I like to be a pencil, not an eraser dietitian, meaning I enjoy adding foods back into peoples’ diets.

Pasta definitely falls in to this category. It’s okay to want to cut down carbohydrates, but there’s a huge difference between cutting down and cutting out altogether. Carbs like Barilla pasta contribute energy and vitamins to our diets, and is an affordable, healthy meal choice. My kitchen is always stocked with Barilla’s blue boxes, because it’s one meal that everyone loves, and it’s so versatile! Whatever I have in the house – even if it’s just a can of chickpeas, olive oil, and some parmesan – can become a quick meal when it’s mixed with pasta. The more veggies and other healthy add-ins you have, the better!

If you’re active and eat a varied diet, there is no reason at all to avoid pasta or any other carbohydrate. A varied diet is a healthy diet! Barilla has a wealth of products to choose from, including its traditional semolina pasta, a gluten-free pasta line which contains no wheat ingredients and is made from a combination of non-GMO corn and rice in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and new Barilla Ready Pasta, a ready-cooked pasta that is simply reheated in the microwave in 60 seconds, which I love when the kids are starving and don’t want to wait for a meal. Perfect.

Eat mindfully.

A positive food experience doesn’t only involve the food we eat, but also how we eat it. 

Are you gobbling down your meals in front of the TV or computer, or while you’re driving? We all do those things occasionally, but distracting ourselves while we eat can not only lead us to eat more, but also to miss the joy and pleasure of eating itself. Instead of overthinking what the food has or doesn’t have, try reframing your negative thoughts about food in positive ones.

Take the time to really taste and enjoy your food with no distractions. 

Make an effort to eat slower. 

Eat when you’re hungry. 

Stop when you’re full. 

Focus on how your food is nourishing you – physically, and also emotionally.

In a world full of changing nutrition advice, I truly believe that those principles are evergreen.

Realize that a healthy diet has typically ‘healthy’ food, but also less-healthy choices, too.

So many people believe that for a diet to be healthy, it can’t include what most people consider to be ‘treats’ – cookies, chips, whatever. I truly don’t think that’s true. 

A healthy diet is balanced, and eating cookies occasionally isn’t going to hurt you! I live by the rule that if most of my diet is whole, minimally-processed, homemade foods, then I can still enjoy less-healthy options when I want them. That’s a plan that’s easy to follow.

Enjoy life, enjoy food, enjoy eating. Eat Positive. 

We’ll be visiting the Parma Barilla factory later this week, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll be posting often on social media throughout my trip, so don’t forget to tune in on my Instagram!