Ingestion is a highly regulated behavior that integrates taste and hunger cues to balance food intake with metabolic needs. To study the dynamics of ingestion in the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster, we developed Expresso, an automated feeding assay that measures individual meal-bouts with high temporal resolution at nanoliter scale. Flies showed discrete, temporally precise ingestion that was regulated by hunger state and sucrose concentration. We identify 12 cholinergic local interneurons (IN1, for "ingestion neurons") necessary for this behavior. Sucrose ingestion caused a rapid and persistent increase in IN1 interneuron activity in fasted flies that decreased proportionally in response to subsequent feeding bouts. Sucrose responses of IN1 interneurons in fed flies were significantly smaller and lacked persistent activity. We propose that IN1 neurons monitor ingestion by connecting sugar-sensitive taste neurons in the pharynx to neural circuits that control the drive to ingest. Similar mechanisms for monitoring and regulating ingestion may exist in vertebrates.