Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Are You a Vitamin or Supplement Hoarder?

How to fire your inner hypochondriac.

Key points

  • Just going online brings incessant reminders of the need to fix oneself.
  • Clickbait makes it easy for hypochonriacs to purchase and hoard supplements.
  • One way to break the habit is to partner with a medical doctor.
  • Definitive blood tests can end the uncertainty that feeds hypochondria.

Does your pulse quicken when the clickbait asks you questions about your digestive health? Do photos of what might be trapped inside your belly from weeks of eating less-than nutritional savories and sweets capture your attention? Does work seem less of a priority now that your computer features the next best supplement?

If you answered "yes," seriously, how can you get work completed when you probably have a mess inside your gut? You start to scroll through the supplements' squeeze page. The checklist is something that pertains to you.

  • Yes, you have a stomach.
  • Yes, you might have not been regular once or twice in your life.
  • Yes, you probably ate something bagged or boxed in the past five years.
  • Yes, your skin seems to be dull during the winter months.
  • Yes, it's hard to drink enough water even though water is available at the tap.

Once you get to the bottom of their checklist—which applies to 99.9% of humans—you click the button and buy whatever supplement is being peddled. You probably even bulk up to save an additional $50. Wow, you just saved $50. Never mind you just spent $400 on fiber, vitamins, and collagen also found in your fridge, garden, or farmers market.

If this scenario rings true to you, consider you might be a vitamin hoarder. I am. Let me explain why many of us feel like we need more vitamins than what's provided in our ample food supply.

Used with permission Wasabi Publicity/Adobe Stock Images
Food is the best way to get vitamins and minerals.
Source: Used with permission Wasabi Publicity/Adobe Stock Images

Open up my kitchen cupboards and you'll see them full of vitamins, powders, potions, and "feel better now" promises. I take comfort knowing I hoard vitamins, not pharmaceuticals. Either way, the source of wanting to feel normal and comfortable in one's skin is at play. My body never feels normal. I'm always seeking relief and have been since I was molested by a neighbor at the tender age of 8. My hypochondria feels connected to my PTSD.

If you've been on a diet for 30 years or you cram your cupboards full of supplements, consider these steps to emancipate yourself from your inner hypochondriac.

Hire a Medical Doctor to Be Your Partner

Find a medical doctor who can evaluate whether or not your body is absorbing the food and supplements you're consuming. As I entered midlife, I received a holiday postcard from a friend who said she had gotten a blood test that told her whether she was deficient in minerals and vitamins. It shed light on how she was feeling. I immediately did the same thing, and now my medical doctor can see whether I need to take extra vitamins and minerals. It's a wonderful relief to have definitive tests that say I need this and not that. No more guessing. That is the first step to firing your inner hypochondriac.

Celebrate Your Food and Body

When you survive an overwhelming life or death experience, one way your body copes is by desensitizing you. What happened to me after years of being molested when I was just a child, I disconnected from my body, as if my spirit hung out safely in the corner of that room. Every time I exercise, nourish, or rest my body, I start with a statement of gratitude—I celebrate being alive. This is why I no longer diet. Diets feel desperate and have a context of scarcity.

What feels better to me is to coach my training clients with the Good Housekeeping 28-Day Mediterranean Cookbook, which has as its main tenet celebration. The recipes are quick, easy, and balanced. I highly recommend approaching fitness first by celebrating being alive. If you agree and need an accountability "life celebration" coach for your fitness, You can find free workouts here, along with a support group and sustainable fitness training sessions. You don't have to be alone in your pursuit to be healthy.

Stop Fixing Yourself

Did you ever notice you can't turn on your phone or TV without being reminded you smell bad, need to lose weight, or could improve your performance? What would your life look like if you weren't made to feel broken? Journal about this.

Bookend Phone Calls Before Buying More

Make a phone call before and after purchasing supplements. I call my husband, who can be impartial. Think about a friend who can be your partner in health. Use your medical doctor to analyze your blood tests, and use a friend to bookend purchases—to ensure they're not reactions to feeling broken by ever-present clickbait.

Clean Your Cupboard and Throw Away Expired Supplements

Make sure you're not hoarding expired vitamins and food.

If you can't place any more bottles in your cupboard because you've filled them with supplements, you can follow these steps to emancipate yourself from the supplement-buying cycle. Then the next time you see the next snake-oil potion, powder, or pill being peddled, keep scrolling.

The difference? You're now not trying to fix yourself. You've got a plan instead.

More from Michelle Tennant Nicholson M.A.
More from Psychology Today