The “Bialy Diet”

Andrew Siegel MD  10/6/2018

Today’s entry is, actually, about a healthy eating lifestyle—as opposed to a diet—that works for me and I promise will help you improve your shape and shred excess pounds. I want to emphasize that this is not a fad pursuit, but a style of eating that can be easily incorporated to replace the typical calorie-rich, nutrient-poor Western diet that is overloaded with highly processed and refined foods, junk and fast foods, contributing to avoidable chronic health problems. As opposed to many weight loss programs that are gimmicky, unbalanced, unhealthy, unsustainable and frankly ridiculous, this approach is a no-nonsense, intelligent one—clean, lean, with plenty of green—that will stave off your hunger and hold caloric intake in balance with expenditure, making it effective and durable.

What do I mean by “bialy diet”?   It is sensible and nutritious eating, substituting less caloric and healthier foods for more caloric and unhealthier alternatives, e.g., bialys instead of bagels.  “Bialy diet’ does not imply eating a bialy at every meal, but is simply code for substituting healthier choices for unhealthier ones!

Bialy diet

A Few Words on Bialys

bialy | bēˈälē | noun (plural bialysUS a flat bread roll topped with chopped onions

The bialy is like the bagel’s older, less famous cousin who gets more handsome the longer you look at him.  –Rebecca Orchant

Who doesn’t love a fresh, warm NY bagel with a smear of cream cheese?  Sadly, the answer is our bodies and our health.  The 360-calorie bagel with two tablespoons of cream cheese (100 calories) is 460 calories of mostly refined carbs and fat. A great alternative is a bialy (“bialystoker kuchen” from Poland where it originated), a delicious flat bread roll that contains no hole, is not over-stuffed and bulging like an overinflated tire and has a depressed middle that is flavored with cooked onions and poppy seeds. The 180-calorie toasted bialy with a teaspoon of light butter with canola oil (20 calories) is only 200 calories and smells and tastes delicious. It is crisp and chewy at the same time, totally satisfying and doesn’t leave you feeling bloated. This with a mug of strong black coffee and half a grapefruit with a few strawberries or blueberries thrown on top of the grapefruit is my typical breakfast.  Sometimes on the weekends I will have an egg white omelet on a bialy with a slices of NJ tomato and avocado, a heavenly treat.


                               Bialy vs. Bagel

Bialy                          Bagel (plain large)

Calories 180             Calories 360

Total fat 0.5 g           Total fat 2.1 g

Cholesterol 0 mg      Cholesterol 0

Sodium 240 mg        Sodium 700 mg

Total carb 38 g         Total carb 70 g

Fiber 3 g                   Fiber 3

Protein 7g                 Protein 14

In addition to the principle of the Bialy diet—substituting healthier alternatives for unhealthier ones—additional principles of this healthy eating style include Michael Pollen’s philosophy, Mediterranean style eating and the 80/20 strategy.

Michael Pollen’s philosophy can be summed up with his famous seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  Food translates to real, natural, wholesome and unprocessed nourishment (as opposed to processed, refined, fast foods); not too much obviously means in reasonable quantities (as opposed to consuming massive quantities); and mostly plants emphasizes eating foods grown in the soil– whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc. (with animal sources in moderation).

Mediterranean style eating is healthy, tasty and filling—and enjoyable.  It emphasizes less meat and more fish, an abundance of vegetables and fruits (rich in biologically active compounds including anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber), whole (unrefined) grains, legumes and healthy vegetable fats from olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, etc.  Herbs and spices are used to flavor food, rather than salt. Dairy products are eaten in moderation.

The other element is the 80/20 (or 85/15 or 90/10 or 95/5) strategy.  This means that 80-95% of the time you adhere to a healthy eating style, but 5-20% of the time you give yourself a break, jump off the wagon and indulge in limited amounts of whatever temptation indulgence you would like.  This avoids deprivation and in my opinion is “an inoculation to prevent the disease.”  On the limited list are sweets including cookies, cakes, donuts, candy, etc. and liquid carbohydrates such as sugary drinks including soda, ice tea, lemonade, sports drinks, fruit juices, etc. (The only liquid carbohydrate I consume is alcohol in moderation, wine being a component of the Mediterranean style eating.)

Some Examples of Substitutions

  • Bialys instead of bagels
  • Seafood and lean poultry instead of red meat (when you do eat red meat, consume only the leanest cuts and grass-fed is preferable to corn-fed)
  • Lean turkey meat instead of beef for hamburgers, meatballs, chili, etc.
  • Vegetable protein sources (e.g. legumes—peas, soybeans and lentils) instead of animal protein sources
  • Avocados instead of cheese
  • Olive oil instead of butter
  • Real fruit (e.g. grapes, plums, apricots, figs) instead of dried fruit (raisins, prunes, dried apricots, dried figs) that are energy-dense
  • Real fruit (e.g. orange, grapefruit, apple, etc.) instead of fruit juice (OJ, grapefruit juice, apple juice, etc.) since real fruit has less calories, more fiber and phyto-nutrients and is more filling than the refined juice products
  • Whole grains (e.g. wheat, brown rice, quinoa, couscous, barley, buckwheat, oats, spelt, etc.) instead of refined grain products
  • Tomato sauces instead of cream sauces
  • Vegetable toppings (e.g. broccoli) on pizza instead of meat toppings (pepperoni)
  • Unshelled peanuts instead of processed peanuts (unshelled are usually unprocessed and are difficult to over-consume because of labor-intensity of shelling, the act of which keeps us busy and occupied)
  • Flavored seltzers or sparkling water instead of soda (liquid candy) with its empty calories
  • Baked, broiled, sautéed, steamed, poached or grilled instead of fried, breaded, gooey
  • If you eat chips, baked instead of fried
  • Wild foods instead of farmed (e.g. salmon)
  • Plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream on baked potatoes and instead of mayo in salad dressings and dips
  • Frozen yogurt bars, which make a delicious 100 calorie or so dessert instead of ice cream
  • Soy, rice, almond or other nut-based milks instead of dairy
  • Low-fat or non-fat dairy products instead of whole milk products

Additional Valuable Nuggets of Advice

  • Pathway to a healthy weight is slow and steady, demanding patience and time
  • Cook healthy meals at home instead of dining out
  • Eat slowly, deliberately and mindfully
  • Eat as if you were dining with your cardiologist and dentist
  • Get sufficient quality and quantity of sleep to help keep the pounds off
  • Avoid late night meals and excessive snacking
  • Eat only when physically hungry with the goal of satiety and not fullness
  • Stay well hydrated as it is easy to confuse hunger with thirst
  • Exercise portion control, especially at restaurants where portions are often supersized
  • Order dressings and sauces on the side to avoid drowning salads and pasta meals in needless calories
  • Do not skip meals
  • Keep healthy foods accessible
  • Perishable food with a limited shelf life is much healthier than a non-perishable item that lasts indefinitely, as do many processed items
  • Read nutritional labels as carefully as if you were reading the label on a bottle of medicine
  • Avoid foods that contain unfamiliar, unpronounceable, or numerous ingredients
  • Avoid foods that make health claims, since real foods do not have to make claims as their wholesomeness is self-evident
  • Avoid food with preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, artificial colors, etc.
  • Plants that are naturally colorful are usually extremely healthy
  • “Organic” does not imply healthy or low-calorie
  • Use small plates and bowls to create the illusion of having “more” on your plate
  • Let the last thing you eat before sleep be healthy, natural and wholesome (e.g., a piece of fruit)—you will feel good about yourself when you get into bed and even better in the morning

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community.

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:


PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 



These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

New video on female pelvic floor exercises:  Learn about your pelvic floor















Tags: , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “The “Bialy Diet””

  1. Mitchell Says:

    Hi Andy, In my opinion this is the best and most important blog you have ever written. If people would follow your advice, then there would be drastically less chronic disease and they would live longer, healthier and more vibrant lives. Keep up the good work.
    Cheers, Mitchell

  2. Seasonal Weight Gain, Pre-diabetes and E.D.: The Hard Facts | Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

    […] (and sexual issues) is to improve lifestyle choices. These include proper eating habits, weight loss and thereafter maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in exercise, adequate sleep, alcohol in […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: