The Sonoma Diet, created by Connie Gunderson R.D., Ph.D., is a weight loss plan that promotes using smaller plates and portions to enjoy Mediterranean-style foods as the way to a slimmer waist and healthier lifestyle. The diet is not meant to be one of deprivation and avoidance. You can still enjoy a glass of wine and many of your favorite foods, just in a more moderate amount.
The premise of the Sonoma Diet is based on the eating habits and foods of the Mediterranean. It “emphasizes eating a generous variety of foods that boost your vitality, protect your heart, and improve your overall health.” You eat wholesome, fresh food inspired by Southern European cuisines, that is easy to find and prepare, rather than nutrition bars, protein drinks, and frozen prepared meals.
There are no Sonoma Diet Centers, but there is an informative online site, The Sonoma Diet book (also available on CD), and a cookbook available to help you in following this weight loss plan.
The diet is managed in three phases, or “waves.” Wave 1 is the kickstart to the diet and lasts for 10 days. This is probably the most difficult part of the diet, learning to eat differently in smaller portions, but it also claims to be the wave with the fastest weight loss, which gives you immediate gratification and impetus to move to subsequent waves.
Wave 2 is the eating plan that is considered the long haul. You will continue on the second wave until target weight is achieved. This is the slow and steady weight loss portion. You will be retraining your palate, learning to eat new foods in new ways, and adjusting to portion control. Once you reach your desired weight, the third wave or maintenance phase begins.
During Wave 3, you will continue to eat similar foods to Wave 2, but with those occasional indulgences and variations.
You have the choice of the classic book or CD approach, including an additional cookbook that is available, or a sonomadiet.com membership. Either approach has plenty of information to help you transition to a healthy diet with portions that will help you manage your weight.
There is a “free analysis” online which requires that you provide your personal information: height, weight, age, gender, target weight, and answer some basic questions about your eating habits and history with diets. They then provide you (gratis) with your body mass index compared to the healthy index for your peer group and invite you to become a member. If you become a member, you will have access to their 14 online tools: Meal Planner, Printable Shopping Lists, Over 500 Recipes, Food Diary, Weight Tracker, Recipe Search, Eating Guides, Wine Guide, Portion Guide, Day-by-Day Support, Message Boards, Weekly Q & A, Exclusive E-mails, and Online Dietitians.
There is nothing on the site about exercise or fitness in the Sonoma Diet. The book touches on the topic briefly, but this is not an essential or required part of the program.
The Sonoma Diet does not provide you with either frozen, fresh, or freeze-dried prepared meals. There are no protein shakes or snack bars. It will be your responsibility to buy and cook each meal on your own, but you also have the ability to eat out within reason.
The Mediterrean diet concept focuses on lean proteins, hearty grains, and fresh vegetables prepared in a way that doesn't feel restrictive and allows joy with what you are eating. You should not feel deprived, and while there is portion control for some foods, the calorie restriction is better than most—in the 1200-1400 calorie range.
During the first wave carbs and sugars are restricted, but that is for the short term only. Once you enter the second wave, your plate will be full and you can enjoy the occasional glass of wine and piece of chocolate, as well as more fruit.
There is also the concept of "Ten Sonoma Diet Power Foods," items that are low in calories and high in nutritional value. The recipes revolve around these power foods, most of which are common in Mediterranean cooking: whole grains, almonds, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, grapes, spinach, blueberries, strawberries and olive oil.
All food is readily available at your grocery store. There is really no increase in the cost of your food bill, and in fact there could be a decrease as you will not be buying prepackaged foods, cookies, ice cream, and other high-fat, high-calorie, overprocessed items. The website is full of recipes, and both the Sonoma Diet book and Sonoma Diet Cookbook provide ample easy-to-prepare dishes. Both also have helpful pull-out diagrams of plates and percentages for each type of food.
Once you read about the diet and understand the three waves you are about to undertake, the diet is easy to follow. You should rarely feel hungry. There will be a learning curve on the foods to choose and portion control, as well as preparing and combining them in a healthy manner.
Food: no increase
Other: Sonoma Diet Book or CD, Sonoma Diet Cookbook
As with any diet program, do your research first. Go to the library, search the internet, and above all, consult your doctor about any diet regimen that you are contemplating.