WHOJuly 13, 2020
By almost anyone’s standards, MasterChef judge Melissa Leong is living the dream. Successful new TV job? Tick. Happy home life in Melbourne with the man the internet has dubbed her ‘hot husband’, Joe Jones? Yes. But just a few years go, the 40-year-old, who has been open about her lifelong battle with depression and anxiety, was diagnosed with a stress-induced autoimmune condition that took nine months to recover from. “I was extremely unwell and couldn’t work,” Leong tells WHO of her battle with Pyrrole disorder, a condition which makes it difficult for those diagnosed to absorb zinc and vitamin B6, and can result in hair loss and chronic insomnia. “I’m in an incredible place right now, but I’m mindful every day to prioritise my health. I’ve learned – the hard way – not to push myself to the point where I break.”
How do you juggle the demands of MasterChef with everything else you have going on?
This show is a huge beast and it definitely wasn’t a snap decision for me to join the cast. You’re carrying on a legacy of everything that’s gone on in the 11 seasons before you. Historically, this was also a really important season for MasterChef so I really needed to go into this with my wits about me. Once you’ve burned out like I have you’re always mindful about what you can and can’t do. I love this job though and while it demands a lot from me and I give it my everything. I’m also very good at saying no, too.
So you’re not someone who’ll go to any party or event?
No. Not that we can at the moment anyway, but even before COVID hit, I had totally embraced JOMO, the joy of missing out! I’m an introvert by nature actually so it’s really easy for me to spend time alone. I love it! Being still and being able to find peace in your own company is a very powerful thing. I’ve utilised that to juggle the demands of MasterChef with what I need for my health.
How important did food become to you when you were unwell?
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July 13, 2020