The need to refeed has nothing to do with weight. Your body and mind are still in a “better eat while the eatin’ is good” state because they’re expecting the next famine any time now. That’s how it’s always gone. Feed yourself adequately and consistently over longer stretches of time and that goes away. It’s not when you hit a certain weight. People can be suffering the effects of restrictive eating at any weight.
There are hungry phases, and when they happen, I just go with them. If I eat something ridiculous, I trust my body to adjust my appetite accordingly. It always does. I’ve seen it over and over again. Earlier this week, I ordered a big roast beef sandwich on French bread with extra mayo, chips, and a cookie. That was lunch. For dinner, I was still hungry and I ate two hamburgers, three potatoes, and ice cream. I was SO FULL after dinner. The next morning I got up and ate breakfast as usual, but then didn’t think about food again until almost 4pm, when I had a snack before dinner. Lunch never even occurred to me. Big meals only mean you’ll be less hungry and less interested in food going forward. It’s just a matter of letting that play out instead of automatically restricting. Restriction keeps the interest in food and the desire to eat it all now very high. Trust gives you more of a calm indifference.
It’s also important to recognize that “too full” is very subjective. A whole heck of a lot of food can feel like the perfect amount at times. It changes for us from day to day, and it definitely will be different from person to person. somebody with an eating disorder may describe eating a whole banana as being too much and making them way too full. A normal person may eat four loaded plates plus dessert at a buffet, and that’s what they call too full. Any stomach stretch at all can freak some people out (myself included while restricting), where others can be so full they’re nauseous and in pain, and that’s what they call too full. Anything not that is not too full.
I‘m more that second type now. I don’t mind being full. It makes me feel safe and grounded. I don’t consider it “too full” unless I’m physically uncomfortable, and then it’s like, “Oh, well. Oops.” The feeling goes away on its own fairly quickly and I’m less hungry in the coming days. There is no crisis. I don’t need to feel bad or take action.
I‘ll add that with this mindset my size/weight is totally stable, unlike with the restrict/binge roller coaster, which was a constant struggle and kept pushing my weight higher. The more you listen to your body and pay attention to how food makes you feel, the better things go.
Early in this process, I tried to always stop eating at “just right” or “just enough.” That too is a form of restriction. I was worrying about it, trying to do it right and afraid I might do it wrong and ruin something. I was telling myself if I did it wrong, I should definitely feel bad about it and start over. What a bunch of diet thinking! That mindset is ridiculously persistent if you don’t kill it with fire, or at least laugh and do the opposite again and again.
When this freedom with food is new, diet brain is absolutely going to fret and make a case for why you should be very worried. The best way to shut it down is to eat until you’re satisfied, and maybe some more for good measure. From your body’s perspective, there may be an element of disbelief or novelty going on right now. Like, really? I can finish all of this, and then eat one of those, and another one of these? Yes! But it’s going to do some testing before it believes you. How many times has our poor body wanted more food and instead we subjected it to bubble baths, sugar free gum, and five mile walks? Of course it doesn’t believe. Of course it wants another bite or ten just in case. That will fade and be replaced with blissful indifference. “I can eat whenever. It’s not even a thing.“ Then all kinds of weird stuff happens. You forget to eat part of your lunch. You eat half your dinner and don’t want anymore. There’s a whole cake in the kitchen and you haven’t even thought about it. I used to think anyone who did things like that was an alien pod person, or restricting and lying about it. I couldn’t fathom not being hungry or not wanting the rest of that right now, but I’m telling you, it happens! The more I eat to total satisfaction, don’t second-guess, and don’t deny or guilt-trip myself, the more it happens.