Zayn Malik Reveals He’s Overcome His Anxiety and Eating Disorder

“It was something I was dealing with in the band.”

Composite. Dominique Charriau/WireImage/Getty Images

Zayn Malik left One Direction almost two years ago—and since then, the solo artist appears to be living his best life. His debut album, Mind of Mine, debuted on top of both the U.K. and U.S. Billboard charts; he has been dating Gigi Hadid since early last year; he just released his first shoe line with designer Giuseppe Zanotti and has a Versace collaboration on the way. And now he’s revealing that he has been living free of both his anxiety and eating disorder since leaving the band.

In an interview with the UK’s Sunday Times Style{: rel=nofollow}, Malik opened up about how leaving One Direction has helped him combat his struggles. “I now have no problem with anxiety. It was something I was dealing with in the band,” Malik told the Times.

Part of overcoming his anxiety stemmed from going public with his struggles with an eating disorder, which he revealed in his autobiography, Zayn. He wrote in the memoir: “It wasn’t as though I had any concerns about my weight or anything like that; I’d just go for days—sometimes two or three days straight—without eating anything at all. It got quite serious, although at the time I didn’t recognize it for what it was. I think it was about control. I didn’t feel like I had control over anything else in my life, but food was something I could control, so I did.”

“People saw strength in that, and they didn’t seem to expect it from a guy, but they expect it from a female, which to me is crazy,” Malik said about the revelation to the Sunday Times. “We’re all human. People are often afraid to admit difficulties, but I don’t believe that there should be a struggle with anything that’s the truth.”

Malik also shared more about his eating disorder and how he’s since recovered, in the interview. “It wasn’t specifically an eating disorder,” he clarified. “It was a control thing. Every area of my life was so regimented and controlled; it was the one area where I could say, ‘No, I’m not eating that.'”

Malik continued: “Once I got over the control, the eating just came back into place, super naturally. Not supernaturally! Just really naturally. I came back to the U.K. and spent some time with my mum and got some TLC, and she cooked me food and I got back in touch, mentally, with a lot of the things I’d lost.”

With his mental health struggles behind him, Malik has been busy working on his second solo album, due out later this year. He also serves as the face for Versus Versace’s spring 2017 ad campaign, which was shot by his Hadid and revealed two weeks ago.

Related: Gigi Hadid Photographed Zayn Malik for Versus Versace’s Spring 2017 Ad Campaign

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