Daphne Oz Opens Up About Her 'Hardest' Fourth Pregnancy as She Judges MasterChef Junior
Daphne Oz is no stranger to the pregnant life.
As she wraps up filming as a member of the judges’ panel at MasterChef Junior, the 33-year-old fourth-time expectant mother opened up to PEOPLE about how she’s feeling while she and husband John Jovanovic prepare to welcomed their baby girl on the way.
“This has been my hardest pregnancy, physically,” she says. “But trying to feel good in my skin, whether it’s finding little ways to take care of myself or finding clothes that fit in a way that makes me feel good, has made a big difference.”
The star — who’s already mom to 20-month-old Domenica Celine, 3½-year-old Jovan Jr. and 5-year-old Philomena Bijou — says she has stayed active and tried to eat as healthy as possible to counter this pregnancy’s difficulties.
“Being on my feet all the time, it can be kind of crazy,” Oz says in a PEOPLE-exclusive clip. “It’s been so much fun here on set that it has just flown by. It’s kept me really distracted and active.”
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“It’s physically daunting,” she adds in an off-camera interview. “I’ve been pregnant four times in five years now. On the one hand, your body is so resilient; it’s truly incredible what the human body is capable of. But on the other, it’s like, ‘Whoa, can you give me a break for a second?’ ”
Oz explains to PEOPLE that each pregnancy has allowed her to bring out a different version of motherhood. But dealing with some expectant-mother challenges, including varicose veins, has been “one of the most significant ways” this pregnancy has been different.
In a Fourth of July Instagram post, a fan noticed one of her legs appeared bruised. Oz replied, “Yep, it’s all my varicose veins from pregnancy — they mostly go away after I give birth but they’ve been worse this time than ever before so we shall see!”
The Chew alum tells PEOPLE that despite these visible difficulties, she aims to showcase what life really is like for her on social media in an effort to give the bigger picture.
“I don’t want to gloss [over] the parts that are challenging,” she says. “I have this incredible community of other moms and other women who are in similar life stages to me. They look at what I’m going through and what I juggle, and it feels very familiar to them. It feels like their life.”
“You’ll see me wearing a lot of long dresses this season,” Oz adds. “The other thing social media gives you is cool, interesting crowd-sourcing of solutions. It’s nice to know that whatever is going on in your life, it’s been like that for many other people too.”
And to help her throughout her pregnancy as she continues to judge on MasterChef Junior and host The Dish on Oz, she has had the help of Jovanovic, whom she describes as “such a hands-on dad.”
“In every way imaginable, he’s my partner,” Oz says about her husband, who just turned 33. “Especially being parents to young kids, and lots of them, you just have to realize that if you can’t laugh about half of the crazy stuff that happens, then you’re just going to be at a loss.”
“It’s really about staying emotionally open for each other and in constant communication,” she adds of her relationship with Jovanovic, whom she married in 2010. “We laugh constantly. I’m so grateful to have him.”
The author of The Happy Cook also mentions that she takes a lot of inspiration from her own parents — Lisa Oz and Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show — saying the two balance themselves and “intellectually bounce off each other so much.”
“My mom is involved in all of my dad’s projects, and in many ways is the creative engine behind so much of what our whole family does,” she says. “John and I have something so similar that goes back and forth between both of our careers where we’re able to really push each other and be each other’s biggest advocates, but also fairest critics.”
At MasterChef Junior — which PEOPLE exclusively announced will be returning for an eighth season — Oz sits next to fellow judges Aarón Sanchez and Gordon Ramsay, the latter of whom just welcomed his fifth child, son Oscar James, in April.
“He and Tana are getting this wonderful, ‘We know how we raised our first four, and we get them quite close together,’ ” she raves. “And this little new guy gets a whole sort of different experience.”
Oz has already brought her kids to “torture everyone on set,” she jokes, and says Tana has introduced the judges to Oscar — a.k.a. “mini little Gordon.” Tilly will also be featured on MasterChef Junior season 8 as she works with the chef-testants on a doughnut-making challenge.
“Hats off to him. I feel like he is juggling so much all the time and I have so much to learn in that regard,” Oz says of Ramsay. “We also really see eye to eye in figuring out how to raise happy, confident kids with passions of their own with really nurturing parents, who at the same time let them live their lives.”
To expecting mothers like herself, Oz has some advice: “Live in the crazy. Enjoy it, because it’s fleeting.”
“The best parts and the worst parts, the highs and the lows, they both go so fast,” she adds. “You just have to relish every part of it.”
MasterChef Junior season 8 is coming soon to Fox. In the meantime, fans can catch MasterChef 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST.