Dear Kate,

I do really hope you'll find a way out of the starvation soon. Starvation, as you say, can never be of the body alone; we are our bodies, and none of our normal pleasures, emotions, thoughts, intimacies, or activities can remain unaffected by physical sickness (which is in the case of anorexia also already a mental sickness, of course).

I don't believe in any spirit or soul that protects us from gluttony, but the equally magical constellation of molecules, cells, and tissues that makes up every human being is in itself enough to keep us bouncing back into balance - if we allow it too, and don't keep ourselves trapped rigidly in one awkward position because of a mistaken idea of physical beauty or self-denial.

It's interesting that you make a distinction between comfort and pleasure; I'd always have thought of them as almost identical, and I certainly wouldn't ever have thought of describing crankiness or black coffee as either! I'd have thought real comfort (and pleasure) would be no longer needing those things - or filling with something more substantial the gap they've seemed to fill. After all, both must be symptoms of a determination to deny oneself real comfort, as though it were something wicked. And yes, the path to a truer form of comfort and happiness may be a long one, but it is paved with pleasures if one lets it be. And it's certainly a good deal nicer for the people around us if we consent to having a pastry with our coffee and stopping being so irritable!

Thank you for the invitation, and what a lovely ambition your son has! I hope he's already sharing his sugary experiments with you.

Emily