When can I start eating to hunger cues?

Be careful on this one. Many attempt to eat to their hunger cues as soon as they have had three consecutive periods (women obviously) and often it is far too soon to trust hunger cues.

Your hunger cues are always accurate, but those with a restrictive eating disorder have what I call a "signal jamming" issue in their brain such that they are torn between responding to hunger and avoiding the perceived threat (namely eating). It takes a lot of non-restrictive practice before you can be sure your hunger cues are coming through to you loud and clear.

Here is how you know you are ready to attempt eating to your hunger cues:

  1. Your weight appears stable. (weighing yourself is not necessary to determine that).
  2. If you have dealt with amenorrhea during your restriction, then you have achieved 3 consecutive periods in a row.
  3. You are continuing to eat minimum amounts and it is comfortable to do so.
  4. Other lingering signs of repair seem complete (no longer cold, tired, achey, dealing with water retention, no brittle hair or nails etc.)
  5. You think you may need to start eating to hunger cues and are a bit anxious that you can trust those cues.

Note Item 5—if you are feeling extremely confident about eating to hunger cues then chances are you are a ways away from remission still.

[from Phases of Recovery from a Restrictive Eating Disorder]

You should really be comfortable that you have covered off all 5 items on that list, not just item 2, before you attempt to eat to hunger cues.

When you think you might be ready, you log your food intake for 3 days while eating entirely to your hunger. After the 3 days, you tally up the calorie intake for each of those days. If you are averaging the minimum guideline amounts for your age, sex and height, then you can feel fairly confident that you will be able to use your hunger cues to stay in remission from that point forward.