Women try to keep their husbands on a healthy food track, but many men will cheat on their diets when away from home, new research suggests. This can be avoided if wives take the time to discuss menu changes with their husbands. This seems obvious, but most times it doesn't happen, the researchers said.

"I think at dinner a lot of men are eating healthier, but they compensate for the dissatisfaction of not eating what they want by making unhealthier choices outside the home," study researcher Derek Griffith, of the University of Michigan, said in a statement. "The key to married men adopting a healthier diet is for couples to discuss and negotiate the new, healthier menu changes as a team."

The new study was published May 7 in the journal Health Psychology.

Researchers conducted focus groups with 83 African-American men. The majority of men said their wives didn't consult them when helping them to adopt a healthier diet. Even though the healthier diet was often ordered by a physician, the husbands often disliked the food changes, but to avoid conflict, they didn't object. Men focused more on maintaining a happy home than having a say in what they ate.

In fact, the only examples found of couples negotiating healthy food choices came about to benefit the children in the home, Griffith said.

However, without that communication, those good intentions and healthy diet changes often backfired, the study found. After tasteless ground turkey for the fifth night in a row, some men would head to the all-you-can-eat buffet for "a landslide of food."

Physicians can help by recognizing that wives play a central role in what men eat at home, Griffith said: "Doctors could suggest that men have a tactful conversation with their wives in a way that ensures the husbands aren't sleeping on the couch that night."