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"It was something I was dealing with in the band."

By Hayden Wright

Last year, Zayn Malik opened up about his struggle with anxiety as he spun away from One Direction and launched his solo career. The tough time led to cancellations and reports that he suffered from an eating disorder. In a new interview with Billboard, Malik gave an update and set the record straight about his relationship with eating.

“It wasn’t specifically an eating disorder,” he said. “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.’ Once I got over the control, the eating just came back into place, super naturally.”

Related: Zayn Malik Drops Acoustic Version of ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’

Then, Malik decided to choose his words more carefully.

“Not super naturally!” he said. “Just really naturally. I came back to the UK 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.”

After taking some time for R&R, Zayn said he’s feeling like himself again — attributing his troubles to the experience in One Direction.

“I now have no problem with anxiety,” Malik said. “It was something I was dealing with in the band.”

Nevertheless, Zayn says his candid revelations may have helped improve the conversation about anxiety and mental health.

“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,” he said. “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.”

The evolution has put Zayn in a good creative space for his second studio album, due to debut this year.

“They always say the second album is difficult, but so far I’m really happy with this one,” he said. “There are real signs of growth and development. Hopefully, as a human being, I’m growing too, in my knowledge and perception.”

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