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Not a Diet, a Lifestyle: Pantry Makeover

Reading Time: 5 minutes

For the record, I thoroughly enjoyed my son’s birthday party two weeks ago. I had a little treat here, a little treat there… It was all SO delicious! 

The result was that I spent a week hobbling around in pain, unable to lift more than a few pounds, and entirely short of breath. No surprises. 

Now that that’s behind me, I can focus on the work at hand, which is getting to a state of less pain and more energy. 

I had my first appointment with a Functional Medicine practice a week ago, and it was eye opening to say the least. If you’ve never heard of functional medicine , the simplest explanation is that it’s a highly individualized assessment of the underlying cause of your symptoms. 

The gastroenterologist and dietician I met made connections between symptoms that I didn’t think were related. They walked through the timeline of my health from birth until now, and I realized that I’ve accepted being sick as my norm for far too long! It is beyond time for a change. 

In my last post I stated that I need to drastically change the way I eat, which is a given. What I didn’t include is that I need to change the way I prepare and store food, the way I clean my home and my kitchen, the way I sleep, and the way I destress

That said, do you know what stresses me out? A mess. 

And do you know what’s been a mess for a really long time? Our pantry. 

In order to support my new and improved healthy lifestyle, I needed to give our pantry a makeover… because truthfully speaking, I don’t know how not to be dramatic. MisterE doesn’t even ask questions anymore, poor thing. I could have put a chandelier in there and he’d have said, “Did you mean to put a chandelier in here, or did it just happen?”  

By the way, I did consider putting a chandelier in there… along with a frosted door and a coat of sage tint on the shelves. But since this impromptu project needed to fly under the budget committee radar, I decided to scale back and keep it simple. 

The most important thing I needed to do was to remove as much advertising from my pantry as possible. Did you know that the average person is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day? Without knowing it, you’re overloading your brain with information – Cheerios, Chex, Quaker Oats, Bob’s Red Mill, Domino Sugar, Keurig, Twinnings, Nate’s Raw Honey, Celestial Tea, Beechnut Natural Bars, Plum Organics, Happy Baby…and that’s not even halfway across the ‘breakfast shelf.’ 

Too much signalling to the brain, too little time. 

I found a set of OXO Pop pantry containers for our dry goods and cereals, and I bought a number of clear bins in varying sizes from Homegoods. I also picked up a few lazy susans for the awkward, hard-to-reach corners in our space. 

After that it was just a matter of decanting and organizing. When it comes to our pantry I like to stick to the most basic rule of organizing – Group Like With Like

I keep all breakfast items on the same shelf, at a height the kids can reach. All snacks are on the bottom shelf so (a) the kids can feed themselves, and (b) MisterE and I aren’t tempted every time we open the pantry door. Drinks – alcoholic and otherwise – are stacked in the back and up the wall. 

Pro-Tip: use your vertical space! I found these minimalist wine racks on sale that take up no space whatsoever and I fell in love. I hung them high because Chief is turning out to be a Category 5 Hurricane and I can’t keep anything breakable within his reach. 

Honestly, I have no idea where these kids get their energy from…

Infrequently used appliances are stacked on the very top shelf, for what I think are obvious reasons. We have an eye-level shelf dedicated to Tupperware because it just makes sense for us. We use our Tupperware more than our plates, because we’ve been on Team Meal-Prep for almost a decade now! 

Also, I learned a long time ago that what I see on Pinterest and what works in our home are two completely different things. 

I’m hoping that by having a less cluttered pantry I’ll have the brain space to take better control of my diet. I’m actually pretty excited about this new chapter. For a while now I’ve wanted to write a cookbook, and now I have a great opportunity to develop and share some new recipes. Which reminds me, I probably need to teach myself how to take appealing pictures of food. I’ll add it to the to-do list.  

Now, I just have to convince myself to submit a stool sample to the Functional Medicine group for analysis, and I’ll be on my way.

When it comes to your pantry, what are your best kept organization secrets? I still see room for improvement (and sage green paint) in ours.  

Have fun! 


Hi, I'm Chioma Ikoku, a spirited explorer and a peace-loving homebody. I founded Casa Diem Life to help you combine the excitement of travel with the comfort of home, because I believe that adventure begins at home.

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