Zayn Malik’s Struggle With Eating Disorder, Star Now Fit and Healthy

Zayn Malik
Photo Credit: Kevin Winter / Staff / Getty

British pop star Zayn Malik, who left the incredibly famous and globally successful boy band One Direction over a year ago, has come out and admitted that he struggled with an eating disorder while at the height of his fame in the band.

In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), the “Pillowtalk” singer, 23, who is now experiencing fame as a solo artist, said that in those final months with One Direction he was battling an eating disorder. “When I look back at images of myself from around November 2014, before the final tour, I can see how ill I was,” Malik says. It is something he has never talked about publicly, but has come to terms with since leaving the band.

The singer, who is currently dating model Gigi Hadid, says he would go for days, sometimes up to three, without eating anything at all. He admits it got quite serious, but didn’t recognize it at the time, and that is quite normal for those who suffer from eating disorders. Though later in the interview the singer downgraded his claim and said that “I don’t think I ever had an eating disorder. I was never diagnosed with one of them.”

In the final months he spent with the British group, Malik’s eating disorder worsened, according to him. He didn’t feel like he had control over anything else in his life, “but food was something I could control, so I did.” This need to control where control anywhere else in a person’s life seems impossible is one of the hallmarks of an eating disorder. Eating, or not eating as it were, and managing of diet, usually to extremes, is seen as the one thing a person with an eating disorder can control, just as Malik says.

Malik also suffers from anxiety, which has caused him to cancel shows, but says he is feeling great these days. He says that he has more control over his career now and unlike the One Direction “machine” that was already going at 100 miles per hour, he has the ability to control the pace of his solo career. “I’m controlling this one,” he told the AP.

A YouTube video from 2013 shows a very thin Malik doing a workout outside a trailer, presumably while the band was on tour. In it, the singer is jumping rope. In another YouTube video, a montage of the band’s workouts, Malik is seen boxing for fitness. Overall though, it seems the singer doesn’t care too much for working out.

Facts About Anorexia Nervosa

Eating disorders are not a fad nor are they a lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are classified as mental illnesses and can be challenging to reverse. People who struggle with an eating disorder need to seek professional help and therapy.

In the United States alone, 20 million women and 10 million men have and do suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life. These disorders include including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder).

Anorexia nervosa can lead to an abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, osteoporosis, muscle loss and weakness, and severe dehydration. Of any psychiatric disorder, anorexia nervosa has the highest rate of mortality.

Johnson, Z., “Zayn Malik Developed “Serious” Eating Disorder Before Quitting One Direction,” E! News web site, November 1, 2016;, last accessed November 2, 2016.