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Many people wrongly assume that only girls and women suffer from eating disorders. However, there are millions of men and boys who grapple with these life-threatening conditions. Now, Zayn Malik (formerly of One Direction) is bravely discussing his own issues with food.
Mailk tells The Sunday Times Style magazine that while he doesn’t believe he had a full-fledged eating disorder, he did use his diet as a way to cope with his anxiety.
In his tell-all book, “Zayn: The Official Autobiography,” Malik explains that he had so little control over his life and his body as a 1D member, so he used food as a way to feel a sense of bodily autonomy and control over his life. He confesses that he would go days without eating, and that he was very strict about the foods he would and would not eat. His physical health and emotional well-being suffered.
It was not until he left One Direction, found help for his anxiety and spent time decompressing at home with his family that he was able to overcome his issues with food.
“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,” he said.
Malik’s story is such an important one, as it gives a face to male eating disorders. The number of boys and men with eating disorders is on the rise, and yet many health professionals overlook symptoms in their male patients. To top it off, many males are embarrassed to admit that they suffer from what is commonly thought of as a “woman’s problem.”
By bravely speaking about his own issues with food, Malik is helping to illustrate that men can suffer from full-blown anorexia or bulimia as well as disordered eating, which is characterized by the same behaviors as eating disorders, but at lesser frequency. We need to become more cognizant of this issue as a society and more supportive of male sufferers.