By Margarita Nahapetyan
Married men eat healthy food their wives prepare for them at home, but like to secretly binge on unhealthy fast food while away from the family dinner table, a new survey has found.
According to the team of nutritionists at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, men in the United States obediently consume the low-fat food at home just to avoid fighting and arguing with the spouse over her healthy fare, but then secretly sneak out to gorge on junk food. Dr. Derek Griffith, assistant professor at the University of Michigan came to the conclusion that the only examples when partners negotiated healthy food choices at home were when it came about to benefit their kids.
The experts say that if couples could talk as a team about their dinner plans, it could stop the husband from eating unhealthy when he is not at home. It was revealed that in those families where partners discussed new and healthy menu changes together, husbands adopted a healthier diet much faster. And without such communication, the wives' good intentions and healthy diet changes often had a reversed effect. For example, the survey found that, after eating tasteless ground turkey for five days in a row, some husbands just escaped to the all-you-can-eat buffet for "a landslide of food."
For their new survey, nutritionists involved focus groups consisting of nearly 90 male volunteers with whom they discussed changes in a diet at home. The participants were asked whether or not their spouses had ever consulted them about dinner menu or took into consideration their preferences for the healthy food. According to the answers, the vast majority of the men had never been informed about the healthy changes in the household meals. They believed that their wives had more control of what food they consumed at home when compared to eating out. For men, it was their spouses and not their food preferences that played a role in what they ate at home. Therefore, researchers said, such imbalance in the decision making forced men to seek solace in junk food away from their homes and their wives.
Almost all the study participants reported being quite satisfied with household roles adopted by both spouses in the home, which included their wives being in control of cooking meals as well as decision making. However, the men did not seem so happy when their wives made changes by switching to a healthy diet. The experts revealed that for some of the men dietary changes were recommended by their physician but the fact that their wives failed to discuss the matter with them made the husbands feel frustrated about the changes. All the men expressed only positive feelings and were really happy that their wives cared about them and were concerned about their health. And not to have any argument or a fight at home, they rather chose to appease their wives and ate the healthier meals without any complaint. But later they just cheated on the diet and splurged on junk food.
To deal with the problem, Dr. Griffith has a few recommendations:
Physicians should recognize that women play an important role in what their husbands eat at home;
Doctors should recommend their male patients to discuss their food preferences with their spouses in a tactful way;
Women should discuss and plan together with their husbands the new and healthier meal choices, and never make such decisions alone, without consulting their husbands first.
The findings are published in the journal Health Psychology.