The New Sonoma Diet

By Jim F

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One of the most popular diets of the last 5 years has been massively updated. Written by Registered Dietitian Connie Guttersen, the diet takes its name from the Sonoma region in California.

The Sonoma Valley region is renowned for its wine industry – and the diet has a distinctly Mediterranean theme.

The Joy of Eating

The New Sonoma Diet has been dubbed “the most flavorful weight loss plan under the sun” – and emphasizes the joy of eating. The diet singles out 10 foods – the “Sonoma Diet Power Foods”.

  • Almonds
  • Bell peppers
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Grapes
  • Olive oil
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole grains

And yes, those grapes can be fermented – like most other Mediterranean diets – wine is on the menu with Sonoma.

i-e69dd596fa026ded59aa5246e2c91116-sonoma.gifChopped Salmon Salad (Wave 1)
Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
3/4 cup flaked smoked salmon
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped yellow bell pepper
1 1/3 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped onion

1 medium cucumber, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped ripe olives
2 teaspoons small capers, drained
Lemon Vinaigrette

1. Coat four 6-ounce coffee cups with nonstick cooking spray. Equally divide and layer ingredients in each cup in the following order: salmon, green onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, and cucumber. Cover tops with plastic wrap and firmly press mixture into cups with a soup can or similar object slightly smaller than diameter of cup.

2. To serve, invert salads onto 4 salad plates; carefully lift off cups. Sprinkle salads with olives and capers; drizzle with Lemon Vinaigrette.

Lemon Vinaigrette: In a screw-top jar combine 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, sugar substitute to equal 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce. Shake well before serving.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 135 cal., 9 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 7 mg chol.,
429 mg sodium, 9 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 7 g pro.

The 3 Waves

The diet is structured into 3 waves (phases). The first wave lasts for just 10 days and is more restrictive. The second wave is the main weight loss phase, and number 3 is the lifelong maintenance phase. It’s all about appropriate portioning rather than measuring amounts or calories. The ‘plate-and-bowl’ concept means using a 7-inch plate for breakfast, and a 9-inch plate for lunch and dinner. Each wave of the diet instructs you how to fill the plates!

Online Program

The book contains 500 recipes, whilst the fee-based online version has over 900. The online version includes many tools such as meal planners, shopping lists, diaries, and trackers, and community forums (and many more). Subscription costs are $5 per week with a minimum 5 week charge (at least there are no cancellation fees here). See the New Sonoma Diet Online here.

A Wine Guide?

There aren’t many diets that teach you how to select the right wines. Whether it’s red, white, or sparkling – wine is on the menu from Wave 2 onwards.

What’s in the NEW Sonoma Diet?

The New Sonoma Diet (2011) brings with it the following:

  • More than 50 new recipes and menus.
  • Sonoma Made Simple and Sonoma Express quick meals, with a “cook once, eat twice” philosophy.
  • New recipe ideas for family, gluten-free, and on-the-go meals that include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
  • New research on omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics, dark chocolate, vitamin D, and more.

Mediterranean Diets Are The Healthiest Around

The Mediterranean approach continues to be proven by research. Just over the last few years researchers have shown that:
Mediterranean Diet lowers risk of first heart attack, and it may be influential in protecting against Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Mediterranean diets also fight off age-related weight gain. To top it all off there are even preventative affects on cancer.

The New Sonoma Diet is one of the best diets around today, and you wouldn’t be wasting your money by taking its advice to heart.

Where to get it:
New Sonoma Diet at Amazon
New Sonoma Diet Recipes and Cookbook.
The Sonoma Diet on-line program

230 Comments

  1. elena pocha

    I am trying to get back on to the Sonoma diet but they say the are not accepting any new members ,what about old members trying to renew their membership ?

    Reply
    • Ted

      Hi Elena, I don’t think they are in business anymore which is way they aren’t accepting. You could always do the diet yourself using the book, right?

      Reply
  2. francinelee hand

    there is incongruity in your meal plans and your wave one game plan which excludes grain from lunch, but your menu suggestions on pages 161 , 164, etc include pita, whole wheat pasta , papillote,, and tibulleh…..please reply and explain this….francinelee….

    Reply
  3. francinelee hand

    altho your wave one excludes grain at lunch, I find many lunch plans for wave one which include it….please explain this:
    page 161 day one: lunch is greek salad w shrimp in half a whole wheat pita…

    day 4 lunch, phase one, again: whole wheat wrap or pita

    Reply
  4. Heather

    I was wondering about alcohol. I enjoy hanging with my friends on occasion and I was wondering about Vodka.. Isn’t Vodka a good liquor

    Reply
    • Ted

      No, it’s not. No alcohol is good for the body as it is essentially a poison. The only reason red wine is recommended is because of its antioxidants, but even this is exaggerated since fresh, dark berries would be far better. Alcohol stresses the liver and interferes with its job of processing fats. On occasion, in deed celebrate, but don’t overdo it.

      Reply
  5. Sunnie

    I agree with Joanne. There are small changes you can make to your budget to help you afford some of the foods necessary for Sonoma. I get canned tuna and canned salmon for the recipes that call for fish. I eat seasonal vegetables or whatever is on sale at the grocery store or Costco. Sometimes you can find really decent produce in the bump and dent section of the veg aisle–this works especially well with soup. Also, if your children are small, you can buy small bottles of olive oil for less–you don’t need very much for yourself. Another thing you can eat on this diet is beans and rice which whether they are raw or canned can be relatively inexpensive. You don’t HAVE to drink wine–that could save some $$$. I hope you can figure out a way to afford this diet, it would be much healthier for you and may save you medical bills in the long run.

    Reply
  6. Sunny

    I started Wave 1 about 9 days ago. I cheated a little the first week and was still down 2 pounds after 5 days. The last 4 days I have been really careful and have lost another 1/2 pound.
    I think I will do Wave 1 for about another week to make up for the first 5 days of cheating. I have a total of 15 pounds to lose. I am wondering if people are still seeing weight loss on Wave2? BTW…I feel so energetic!!! I haven’t felt this good in YEARS!!! I agree with everyone else, it’s not a diet, it’s a way of life and I feel fabulous. The meals are so delicious and satisfying!!! I have been recommending it to all my friends. About its similarity to SB, it is similar, but getting to have whole grains a few times a day and some fruit makes all the difference. When I did SB a few years ago, I was so tired from no carbs that I slept my afternoons away–I had NO energy. This is not happening on the Sonoma Diet and I am still in Wave 1. I have less of an appetite and am satisfied with less food already after only 9 days.

    Reply
  7. 80bites

    do you live in northern ca, susan? or in a mediterranean climate? i agree with george, just another fad diet, does nothing to nurture a person’s relationship with food and eating.

    Reply
  8. Bonnie

    My hubby and I just lost 5 and 4.5 pounds, respectively, on the Flat Belly Diet 4-day jumpstart program. But we are vegie and wine lovers and are looking for a diet plan that includes both of these. Thanks for all your postings; they are helping us decide if Sonoma could be our next step. We are aslo looking at The Omega Diet. Has anyone tried it?

    Reply
  9. gaby

    i just started this diet, today to be exact. All i want to say is that the food is fantastic, my starting weight is 162Lb. and i’m 5’0″. I hope i can lose the 40 extra pounds. :.)

    Reply
  10. Karla

    My husband and I started the sonoma diet last week, we’re on day 5 and cannot believe how incredible the food is! The food we were eating before we started the sonoma diet was so boring compared to the food we’re eating now! It has been difficult not eating as much, and the first night I had hunger pains like I’ve never had before! But now I’m not as hungry, and am not eating as much. Our scale is broken so I dont know if I’ve lost any weight, but I feel great!

    One question that I have though that maybe someone could help me with is about the unlimited vegetables. Does unlimited mean we can have as much vegetables as we want whenever? If I’m hungry can I have any of those vegetables on the list? My sister in law said we had to follow exactly to the tee, and now have anything extra that isn’t in listed for each day, but some days I feel fairly hungry. Any suggestions?

    I want to loose 35 lbs, since I just had our first baby, and I’m thinking it might be a bit tough, especially to tackle the areas that aren’t the same as they were before… but I’m excited to continue on with the food. Keep you posted on how things go! If anyone has any suggestions that might be good for me that’d be great! Thanks!!

    Reply
  11. lamer

    I did this diet 3 years ago and it worked awsome for me. I kept the 25 pounds off until I went to nursing school full time while maintaining my full time job. I completely quit making healthy choices and gained the weight back. now that I am done with school, I am gonna do this diet again, and stick with it this time. It was easy to eat out or cook at home, as long as your schedule is not overstuffed

    Reply
  12. Anna Maria

    Hey Joanne,

    I have a lot of weight to lose as well. I was thin throughout my teens and early twenties and after two kids, fast food and laziness, I have a long road to weight loss. The thought of failing at another diet scares me and I’m not sure what to do…..

    Reply
  13. Anna Maria

    That is smart, good advice… Thanks George!

    Reply
  14. Anna Maria

    Hi Kathy,

    I’m in the same boat you are. I have tried so many diets. I need to lose 100 pounds and I can’t seem to make diets an ongoing part of my life either. I wish I didn’t have this problem and am still looking for a non-surgical way to lose the weight. I am also considering this book…..

    Reply
  15. kim

    I have been on the Sonoma diet for 6 days and I am discouraged because I have lost any weight. I haven’t added any regular exercise yet, so I’ll try that. I am going keep with it for now because the food is so much healtier for me than the stuff I ate before and maybe I can encourage my family to eat better with me.

    Reply
  16. debbie

    I started the Sonoma way of eating last summer and lost almost 20 pounds in three months. I felt great and my family couldn’t stop telling me how good I looked! My husband said these were the best meals I’ve ever cooked; even my kids (ages 11, 8 and 3) loved the meals. My older two loved helping me do all the prep work so not only was I serving my family good meals, I was also enjoying some good “mommy and me time” with my girls which often turned into a teaching time. After spending some time out of the country and away from my normal cooking and eating habits, I slipped off the Sonoma boat for a while, and while some pounds have found their way back on my hips, I can still fit into my clothes from last summer. I still am aware of my portions and try to make better choices, like no prepared boxed food, white flour or sugar. Cooking the Sonoma way makes me feel like a gourmet cook and my family loves it. I’m starting Wave 1 again this week and don’t plan on leaving the country this year! I don’t think of this as a “diet” but more of a lifestyle change that’s for the better. This might not be for everyone, but I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself and leave room for mistakes, because everyone makes them and nothing is perfect. I make it work for me and my family and they support me in my efforts. They want the best wife and mom they can have and I want to give them my very best. Feeling good about myself helps me do that. Thanks, Sonoma Diet, for helping me get back on the road to health!

    Reply
  17. Agi Anderson

    I started eating Sonoma style more than two years ago and have shed nearly 50 lbs. I do make it a point to include, if not all, most of the 10 power foods on my weekly shopping list. Changing the way I eat came with changing the way I think. I made the decision to make selections of what eat from the 10 power foods. Sonoma style offers a healthy, delicious way to eat. It’s coming to terms with yourself, that you want to change the way you eat, that you want to be physically active and that you are willing to follow a plan that makes sense. I am glad I chose the Sonoma plan.

    Reply
  18. Heather

    I finished wave 1 with a total weight loss of 14 lbs!! I have a good feeling it is water weight loss. What do you think?

    Reply
  19. Heather

    I bought the book and I have been on the diet 7 days. I was so surprised to find out how delicious the meals are. I have lost 11 pounds!! I look forward to starting waves 2 and 3. I have quite a ways to go, but eating the delicious food helps. Those of you who are looking for a delicious meal plan the Sonoma diet is for you!!

    Reply
  20. Sherry

    Also Ann, I was reading the book last night and I believe it said you could you Lean Cuisines (Spa Cuisines only though). Check the book out and see if I am correct, Good Luck!

    Reply
  21. Heather

    For a Sonoma Diet friendly pizza I would recommend making a veggie pizza using a whole wheat pita. Slice the pita in half so you have 2 rounds. The “crust” will be crispy, but yummy. I’m new to this, so I’m not sure if tomato sauce would be acceptable, but if it is, mix it with some italian mixed herbs and fresh garlic. Spread lightly over the pita round. Add any number of allowed veggies (spinach, mushrooms, onion and green pepper are our faves). Then top with 1 oz of mozzarella or goat or feta cheese. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. Cut into 1/4 and enjoy 1 pita pizza. 🙂

    Reply
  22. ckluza

    Try getting most of your fruits and vegetables from farmer’s markets. I live in Arizona and use a local ranch market and Sprouts. It is way cheaper than the grocery store. I am starting this diet next Monday after I finish reading the book. (I also happened to find the book at the local dollar store – Dollar Tree) Talk about saving money. I am very excited to start this diet. I have 8-10 pounds to lose but no matter what I do it never comes off. Also the fact that I can still have my nightly glass of wine is an added bonus. As with the Mediterranean diet or the South Beach diet…it is a change of life not a diet.

    Reply
  23. joanne

    I agree with you, it is more expensive to eat healthy but think of the long term benefit. Here is what I did, I reduced my cable bill by $65 per month by just getting “economy” cable. I go to the liabrary to rent movies, it’s free. I wait a few extra weeks before getting a hair cut. Small changes like that will help with the extra grocery bill. Also, try to look for sales or go to Sam’s Club/Costco, they usually have huge bags of broccoli for next to nothing. My friend tried this with me and she quit smoking ($4 per day) and starting eating healthy, go figure. 🙂 I love the Sonoma LIFESTYLE and will continue to follow it throughout life. Good luck!

    Reply
  24. Steve Parker

    The author of Sonoma, Dr. Gutterson, attributes overweight to over-consumption of refined sugars and flours and other “fast-absorbing foods” that displace fruits and vegetables. Her remedy is to eat controlled portions of the fresh, minimally processed whole foods of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

    Portions are controlled by eating off 7 and 9-inch plates and from 2-cup bowls, covering percentages of the plate with protein foods, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fatty food portions are also controlled. Allowable foods are numerous, including whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, chicken, lean beef, fish, poultry, pork, veal, low-fat dairy, legumes, eggs, nuts, and wine.

    Her “Wave 1” lasts 10 days and is designed to teach portion control and to overcome habitual over-consumption of concentrated sugar, refined flours, and other highly processed foods. Wave 2 includes more variety, adds fruit and wine (optional), fat-free yogurt, and more calories. Both waves include unlimited particular vegetables characterized by high fiber and low calorie-density. In Wave 3—the rest of your life—you eat more fruits and vegetables and continue to avoid fatty meats, fruit juices, potatoes, full-fat dairy, trans fats, saturated fats, sugary sweets, and refined grains. She’s fanatical about avoiding saturated fats.

    At first glance, it appears the author puts everyone on the same eating plan, whether a 325-pound ditch-digger or 150-pound desk jockey. However, she allows “bigger men” and very physically active women the option of more snack calories, about 400 daily. Dr. Gutterson never reveals how many calories are on the diet, nor how many should be. A review in Consumer Reports estimated that calories on Sonoma were 1,390 per day. That’s fine for most women, but inadequate for most men. The extra snacks for men, along with unlimited veggies, should get them up to a more reasonable intake. Consumer Reports calls Sonoma an “updated lower-carb diet.” Sonoma may have more protein than the traditional Mediterranean diet, but it is by no means low-carb.

    Dr. Gutterson recommends following her specific thrice-daily meal recipes for Waves 1 and 2, a total of 24 days. But you are free to come up with your own meals based on the approved-foods list and plate percentages. Her meals entail a significant amount of preparation, but the recipes look like they would be worth it.

    Since this is a review, I feel obligated to criticize something. So… 1. Dr. Gutterson never discusses reasonable goal weights. 2. She doesn’t understand that jogging and biking are aerobic exercises, not strength training. 3. She doesn’t discuss exercise much, although does recommend it and gives good basic advice. 4. She recommends breakfast cereals with at least 8 grams of fiber per serving. These are unpalatable and, fortunately, rare. (Three grams per serving is fine.) 5. Sonoma is not as customizable as I would prefer. 6. Cold-water fatty fish should have made it onto her list of Top Ten Power Foods.

    Dr Gutterson provides an extensive scientific reference section, which is both admirable and helpful. Another feature I love is the pull-out section in the back of the book which summarizes the approved foods and depicts the plates and bowls with food percentages. Pin these to your refrigerator or take to the grocery store. An entire chapter is devoted to common problems of dieters, such as eating at restaurants.

    “The Sonoma Diet” is a masterful application of the Mediterranean diet to weight loss. I congratulate Dr. Gutterson. For readers with further interest, please see my book, “The Advanced Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight, Feel Better, Live Longer.” Here you will find a higher degree of individual customization (four calorie levels), extensive discussion of physical activity, and meal plans with less cooking.

    -Steve Parker, M.D.
    author of The Advanced Mediterranean Diet

    Reply
  25. Steve Parker

    The author of Sonoma, Dr. Gutterson, attributes overweight to over-consumption of refined sugars and flours and other “fast-absorbing foods” that displace fruits and vegetables. Her remedy is to eat controlled portions of the fresh, minimally processed whole foods of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

    Portions are controlled by eating off 7 and 9-inch plates and from 2-cup bowls, covering percentages of the plate with protein foods, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fatty food portions are also controlled. Allowable foods are numerous, including whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, chicken, lean beef, fish, poultry, pork, veal, low-fat dairy, legumes, eggs, nuts, and wine.

    Her “Wave 1” lasts 10 days and is designed to teach portion control and to overcome habitual over-consumption of concentrated sugar, refined flours, and other highly processed foods. Wave 2 includes more variety, adds fruit and wine (optional), fat-free yogurt, and more calories. Both waves include unlimited particular vegetables characterized by high fiber and low calorie-density. In Wave 3—the rest of your life—you eat more fruits and vegetables and continue to avoid fatty meats, fruit juices, potatoes, full-fat dairy, trans fats, saturated fats, sugary sweets, and refined grains. She’s fanatical about avoiding saturated fats.

    At first glance, it appears the author puts everyone on the same eating plan, whether a 325-pound ditch-digger or 150-pound desk jockey. However, she allows “bigger men” and very physically active women the option of more snack calories, about 400 daily. Dr. Gutterson never reveals how many calories are on the diet, nor how many should be. A review in Consumer Reports estimated that calories on Sonoma were 1,390 per day. That’s fine for most women, but inadequate for most men. The extra snacks for men, along with unlimited veggies, should get them up to a more reasonable intake. Consumer Reports calls Sonoma an “updated lower-carb diet.” Sonoma may have more protein than the traditional Mediterranean diet, but it is by no means low-carb.

    Dr. Gutterson recommends following her specific thrice-daily meal recipes for Waves 1 and 2, a total of 24 days. But you are free to come up with your own meals based on the approved-foods list and plate percentages. Her meals entail a significant amount of preparation, but the recipes look like they would be worth it.

    Since this is a review, I feel obligated to criticize something. So… 1. Dr. Gutterson never discusses reasonable goal weights. 2. She doesn’t understand that jogging and biking are aerobic exercises, not strength training. 3. She doesn’t discuss exercise much, although does recommend it and gives good basic advice. 4. She recommends breakfast cereals with at least 8 grams of fiber per serving. These are unpalatable and, fortunately, rare. (Three grams per serving is fine.) 5. Sonoma is not as customizable as I would prefer. 6. Cold-water fatty fish should have made it onto her list of Top Ten Power Foods.

    Dr Gutterson provides an extensive scientific reference section, which is both admirable and helpful. Another feature I love is the pull-out section in the back of the book which summarizes the approved foods and depicts the plates and bowls with food percentages. Pin these to your refrigerator or take to the grocery store. An entire chapter is devoted to common problems of dieters, such as eating at restaurants.

    “The Sonoma Diet” is a masterful application of the Mediterranean diet to weight loss. I congratulate Dr. Gutterson. For readers with further interest, please see my book, “The Advanced Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight, Feel Better, Live Longer.” Here you will find a higher degree of individual customization (four calorie levels), extensive discussion of physical activity, and meal plans with less cooking.

    -Steve Parker, M.D.
    author of The Advanced Mediterranean Diet

    Reply
  26. Beth Cady

    Marci said:
    I’d love to try this diet but hate to cook. Especially since I’d probably be making 2 meals, one for my kids and one for me. Are there any quick and easy meals in the book?[…]

    Yep! You can eat the Spa Lean Cuisines…grab a handful of almonds for a morning snack, and then some celery with natural peanut butter mid afternoon to help get you thru the day. Whole grain toast with p.butter is a quick breakfast with hot tea. Whole wheat English muffins are great with egg whites on them cooked in olive oil. I have 2 little kids, and I know that the cooking is tough as I also work full time. Plan ahead on Sunday for your week. Cook a bag of chicken breasts and use it in a variety of recipes. Buy the steaming whole grain rice pouches and steamfresh veggies. I buy a veggie tray every week and make a lowfat dip with lowfat sourcream and ranch packet and use that as an ongoing snack. I lost 38 lbs on this diet a year ago and haven’t gained anything back. Exercise 1/2 hour or so 4 times a week if possible to help with weightloss and to feel good. The point of this diet over the others is that they teach you to ENJOY your food at mealtimes. Feed the kids first, and then sit quietly with a glass of wine and eat your dinner, even if it’s a Lean Cuisine or a whole wheat Boboli that you made. That’s my biggest lesson I took with me….Good Luck!!!

    Reply
  27. susie

    to jody
    what a wonderful thing as u are sharing your diet ideas!!!and the book with others
    congrats on the weight lose!!! way to go
    i hope this will work for me!!!
    i am willing to listen to any advise as i am doing the south beach mon am is my 2nd wk so maybe i can just go right to wave 2??????????????

    thanks susie

    Reply
  28. susie

    wel i am on the south beach alomost my 2nd wk..i have been ok iwth it i thought i was doing well but i only lost 4 pounds i have like 30 to lose so that was sad for me..
    i have almost every diet book and dont want to start over on a new one but hate all the foods on so. beach…and soooooooo little carbs get added as soon as u get any weight gain u back off on carbs again

    anyone have any help for me??any suggestions as i dont have book to read i have no clue how u eat on this SONOMA diet.
    thanks for any helppppppppppppppppppppppp
    i need these 30 off NOWWWWWWWWWWWWW u nwo how it is

    i do thinki eat too much for supper time meal and i eat too many carbs so not sure this sonoma is ok for me>???

    thanks again
    susie

    Reply