I don't know if it really means they're hungry... that's just how I've interpreted it. I've never read it anywhere... but since it's a means of acquiring food or defending itself, I've just assumed "hungry."
Regarding corals getting all they need from the water column and lighting, I think that's one of those blanket statements that has a lot of assumptions built in. I'm sure it's true for some folks, and not true from others. If you think about it, if you're a sloppy feeder, and your tank parameters are not that pristine, and you don't have a skimmer or use any carbon, then you probably have plenty for the corals to feed on. (Assuming your water isn't so disgusting that the corals just up and die on you to start with!) But if you go the other way, and your water is stripped of any suspended nutrients at all, then I can see where maybe the corals might want more to sustain themselves. It seems like it's a really delicate balancing act.
My only suggestion is go with your gut, but don't overdo it. I remember you had excess nutrient issues in the beginning and you were probably overdosing on the food. If you're like me, you probably swung back too far the other way, not wanting it to happen again. For me, it really boils down to watching your corals and seeing how they respond to certain feeding regimines over several weeks. All corals don't have the same needs. My platygyra gets feed once a week, at the most. It's growing like a weed. My torch and open brain though, they seem to like meaty stuff once every 4-5 days or so. It's hard to really describe, but I tried feeding them just once a week and they just didn't seem as "happy" as when I fed them more often. I didn't have any water quality issues with the 4-5 day schedule, so that's what I've stuck with.
Not sure if that really answers your question, but at least that's my take of it.