How well a child eats is a reflection on eating style, daily practice, and parents' knowledge on good nutrition.

As parents when we get behind our child's hunger, it can influence behavioral issues.

Mankato Clinic Registered Dietician Erin Gonzalez says, "Our blood sugars drop which can make us feel cranky and irritable so sometimes behavioral issues is simply a child being hungry but not knowing how to let the parent know that and so if we make sure that we're timing out meals and snacks about every 3–4 hours then kids are more likely to be fed which means they're going to be happier, healthier kids."

But remember that those in–between meal snacks should stain power to keep children feeling full longer.

Gonzalez says, "Including the protein in there like eggs and cheese and nuts and nut butter and providing more than one choice with that so having that with fruit or with a vegetable or a whole grain."

And as hard as it is parents need to stay clear of becoming a food cop.

Controlling and restricting food can potentially lead to children sneaking food and developing overeating habits.

Gonzalez says, "Utilize it as a teaching moment rather than saying no you can't have it we say you know you can have one fun food a day so you choose what time you have it but just know that's the one time you get to have it today so you choose."

Catering to a child's preference can limit nutritional quality of their diet and reduce their willingness to try new foods.

Prepare one meal for the whole family, no exceptions.

Gonzalez says, "We have to be persistent and consistent while making an effort to also offer one or two pleasing items at the same time table so we know that there's at least one or two things on the table that the kids are going to eat but maybe there's one challenge food that may or may not get consumed but we know that they can still walk away satisfied."

Keep the kitchen closed when it's not meal or snack time to keep kids from grazing.

Gonzalez says, "If they say oh I'm hungry a half an hour later the rule is, kitchens closed, you need to wait now until the next meal so it sounds like you didn't eat enough earlier so let's try again next time. Now with that being said we also have to honor their hunger so sometimes they might not eat as much and the next time they might eat more."

These tips can help steer your child to developing a positive relationship with food.

--KEYC News 12