Viome Guides

The Ultimate Pantry Cleanout: Banish These 29 Unhealthy Foods

pantry cleanout

Our daily habits either help us–or hold us back

No matter your goal or where you are in your health journey, several fundamental healthy habits can benefit nearly everyone, regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle. These habits promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being–and a personalized approach to nutrition is key. One way to help jumpstart your new way of eating with your Viome results is to clear out your cupboards of foods that aren’t healthy for anyone and that can trigger you to make choices that don’t serve your goals. Let’s take it one step at a time, and prep your pantry to fill it with some nourishing foods made just for you when your Viome results are ready.

Come up with a game plan

This means setting aside some time to go through your pantry (and refrigerator and freezer) and take stock of what you have. You will also need to identify everything that comes under the heading of “unhealthy for everyone” and pull them out for the trash. Not to worry, we will help you with precisely the foods that landed on our official list: General foods that everyone should avoid as much as possible.

Top of the list: 

  • Sweeteners like agave nectar, aspartame, corn syrup, sucralose, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, dextrose and white sugar

  • Foods or drinks with added sugar or sweeteners like sports drinks, soda, flavored oatmeal, granola bars, and flavored yogurt

  • Oils such as canola, hydrogenated vegetable oil, shortening, trans fats and margarine

  • Refined grains like white flour, white rice, crackers, etc. (and products made with refined grains)

  • Ultra-processed or packaged foods (sweetened breakfast cereals, chicken nuggets, packaged soups, cheese-flavored crackers, packaged cookies, etc.)

  • Cured meats like bacon, hotdogs, luncheon meat

  • Foods labeled as “sugar-free"

Take a look at the food labels

The next step is to read the labels on all the foods in your pantry (not only now, but make it a regular habit as you shop). Check for added sugars, unhealthy fats, unnecessary additives, and unfamiliar items. If a food has a long list of unpronounceable ingredients, it’s probably best to get rid of it. A Nutrition Facts label and ingredients list is a winner when it is high in nutrients and low in additives.

Keep a lookout for the following additives to foods you may see on labels:

  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA, a synthetic, waxy, solid petrochemical commonly used as a food preservative)

  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT, helps maintain freshness or prevent food spoilage; used to slow the rate of texture, color, or flavor changes)

  • Sodium benzoate (preservative added to sodas and packaged foods to extend shelf life)

  • Carrageenan (common food extract from red seaweed used as an emulsifier in foods like plant milk. It has no nutritional value and has been linked to digestive issues)

  • Artificial food colorings

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG, a flavor enhancer that has been linked to toxicity1)

  • Sodium nitrates and nitrites

Get rid of the junk

Now that you’ve identified the unhealthy foods in your pantry, it’s time to get rid of them. If it turns out you’re clearing out most of your cupboard, that's okay; well done! Lots of space to fill up with the healthy foods your body and microbiome are going to thrive on.  

Restock with healthy options

Once your Viome test results and recommendations come in, you’ll be ready to restock! Head to the grocery store armed with your personalized list of Superfoods and Enjoy foods directly from your Viome app. 

You may want to print this article to help keep an eye out for all the foods that contain any of those sugars, additives, chemicals, fillers, preservatives, fats, and flavorings. The foods and additives above are all known to be harmful to the microbiome and landing on our list of foods everyone should avoid. 

Time to organize

The final step is to reorganize your pantry in a way that makes healthy eating easy and accessible. You’ve already done the tough part!

Organizing your pantry for easy accessibility can make your grocery shopping and meal prep easier–especially if you can see exactly what you do and do not need to shop for to create your weekly menus. 

  1. Organize by type: Group similar items together, such as canned goods, herbs and spices, pasta, sauces, oils, vinegars, and baking supplies.

  2. Use clear containers: Invest in clear, airtight containers for staples like different flours and grains to keep them fresh, dry, and visible.

  3. Use labels:  Use chalk labels or markers to label all your containers to easily identify items that look similar. Label the front of your shelves so you know at a glance what is behind items at the front.

  4. Contain loose items: Consider adding baskets or bins for any loose items like onions, potatoes, or winter squash.

  5. Arrange items smartly: Arrange your shelves by frequency of use, placing everyday essentials at eye level and less frequently used items higher or lower.

  6. Do quick checks: Maintain your organized pantry by regularly checking for expired items, reorganizing as needed, and adding low items to your next week’s shopping list.

Cleaning out your pantry of those unhealthy foods that no one should be eating may seem a little challenging. Still, it is a great way to prep yourself to begin that first leg of your Viome journey and integrate your new recommendations into your daily routine. Take it one step at a time, and don't forget to celebrate your success along the way!


1 Niaz K, Zaplatic E, Spoor (2018). EXCLI J. 2018 Mar 19;17:273-278. doi: 10.17179/excli2018-1092. PMID: 29743864; PMCID: PMC5938543.