The former Wanted singer found life in the band very ''tough'' and can sympathise with his old chart rival, who left the 'Steal My Girl' group in March, for making the decision to walk away from his gruelling schedule.
He said: ''I don't think anyone realises how tough it is being in a manufactured boy band.
''When Zayn left 1D I totally understood why he couldn't handle it any more.''
At the height of their fame, the 'Glad You Came' hitmakers were pitched as a bad boy alternative to One Direction but Tom insists it was hard trying to live up to their reputation.
He said: ''It was quite a reputation to live up to. We did go out and drink in pubs.
''But the truth is, none of us was really wild - more a bunch of geeks.
''I'm fascinated by history, politics, food, that sort of thing, but we had an image to live up to.''
And the 25-year-old singer says life has changed since he left the band.
He told Britain's HELLO! magazine: ''My life has changed since the split. I stopped smoking, I hardly drink and I'm eating healthily.
''I love cooking. My mum taught me to cook when I was 14 but for five years I didn't get to cook at all and most of the time it was takeaways, which isn't the greatest, long term.''
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