Most married African-American men will eat the healthy meals their wives prepare, but they’ll bypass the veggies for junk food when outside the home and away from their spouses, according to a new study published in the journal Health Psychology and reported by Time.

For the study, researchers at the University of Michigan organized focus groups with 83 African-American men, most of whom were married. Scientists asked them about their at-home eating habits and the kinds of foods they selected when they ate out. Their answers showed that their wives were usually the ones responsible for making healthy changes to their diet.

But while husbands said they appreciated that their wives wanted them to eat healthier foods, they said that they were unhappy when they weren’t consulted about at-home menu changes. As a result, many men confessed that when they ate outside of the home, they often binged on junk food and did not maintain healthy dietary choices.

One of the big problems related to this healthy eating rebellion is that when men go to the doctor they often get a less than favorable report, explained Derek Griffith, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. And their doctors tell them they need to change their eating habits, lose 15 pounds, et cetera. The question facing the doctors is, What’s the best way to encourage men to adopt more nutritious eating habits?

The answer: Talk to their wives or significant others. Husbands agreed that they depended on their spouses or girlfriends to make healthy changes to their diet.

The study underscored a shortcoming to this tactic (that when the women were out of sight, so were the healthy foods). But the findings also revealed a solution: Include men in the healthy eating decisions.

“Men in particular don’t eat as healthy as women,” Griffith says. “It’s not enough to just promote healthy eating among men; we have to look at behavior in households.”

Did you know that the African Heritage Diet Pyramid can help people of African descent reconnect with the healthful culinary traditions of the African diaspora? This nutrition model features foods not only from the African continent but also from the American South, the Caribbean and South America.

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