Ever since she was young, Malissa has suffered from crippling anxiety and panic attacks. The MasterChef Australia contestant feared her issues were holding her back.
"It was a battle every day," Malissa, 28, tells TV WEEK. "I had to fight through those [negative] emotions and get over that self-doubt."
The Adelaide local from a large Italian family has always had a love of food, but never dreamed she'd be able to put herself out there and go on one of her favourite shows. She applied for the series when she decided it was time she overcame her struggles.
"What's more scary than putting yourself in a competition on national television?" Malissa says.
Using tools such as meditation, journalling and exercise to stop the experience from becoming too overwhelming, Malissa is proud of how she came across on the show.
"Through putting myself in such an intense experience, I grew as a person and it helped my anxiety so much," she reveals.
"After pushing myself and fighting through that fear, I've come out the other end stronger as a person."
The clinical nutritionist uses food and her own experiences to help women make dietary choices that improve their physical and mental well-being.
"Food is the foundation of how we think and feel," Malissa shares. "I connect to young women who experience anxiety, mental-health issues and low self-esteem [like me].
"I know I can help them on a deeper level."