The Sonoma Diet:
Mediterranean-Style Weight Loss

When I first heard of The Sonoma Diet I had images of healthy Californians running through my head, sipping wine with every meal as a means to maintaining their weight and good health.

After all, the Sonoma region is wine country in California and the title of the popular diet book led me to believe these people had uncovered some secret to health that I needed to know about.

I guess that's what a good title is supposed to do!

Turns out the secret of The Sonoma Diet plan is eating the "right" foods in the proper portions. The good don't have to live in Sonoma to be able to lose weight this way.

What is The Sonoma Diet?

A "Mediterranean" approach to eating with an emphasis on paying attention to your portion sizes.

A Mediterranean style diet is a plant based diet that includes low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry and includes olive oil as the main source of fat. Dairy products like cheese and yogurt are allowable, but red meat is limited. Wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts. And you can enjoy a Mediterranean diet delivered to your door with ediets meal delivery!

The author of this popular diet is a registered dietitian (like me!) and professor of nutrition. Her approach is simple: Eat small portions of good quality foods. No weighing, measuring, or calorie counting is required.

As with many other weight loss diets, you'll advance through 3 phases (called "waves") while following this diet.

The first "wave," which lasts 10 days, is the most restrictive. You're required to stop eating sugars, processed foods, most starches, alcohol and even fruit. You eat mostly protein (poultry, seafood, lean meat, eggs, soy, beans), low starch vegetables, small amounts of nuts and olive oil, and very limited carbs in this wave. This phase is very low in carbohydrate.

When you progress to Wave 2, you're allowed to eat a greater variety of vegetables, start eating fruit and more grains again, and even enjoy a glass of wine with a meal, if desired.

Once you've lost all the weight you want, you progress to Wave 3, where your portion sizes can be increased until you stop losing and start maintaining weight.

In order to assure proper portioning, the guidelines suggest using a 7" plate or two-cup bowl at breakfast and a 9" plate for lunch and dinner. This eliminates the need for meticulous weighing and measuring.

What Consumer Reports Says About The Sonoma Diet

"Reviewers found the overall diet healthful but complex and needlessly restrictive. They felt the book stinted on exercise. Recipes were rather elaborate to prepare."

Ouch! Well, at least you don't need a diet to tell you you're supposed to be exercising. And if you have the time to cook, maybe the Sonoma Diet will be perfect for you.

The Sonoma Diet Online

If you like internet diet support, for $4.00 a week (as of June, 2008) you can follow the Sonoma Diet online and get customized day to day plans, access to more than 500 recipes and weight loss tools like meal planners, shopping lists, food diary, weight tracker, recipes, online dietitians and a whole community of online support.

The Sonoma Diet PROS

  • Written by a registered dietitian.
  • Emphasizes whole foods.
  • Very easy to learn/follow.
  • There are lists of foods to avoid, and "power foods" which are especially encouraged. You eat what you want within these lists.

The Sonoma Diet CONS

  • Fairly restricted in the first phase (wave).
  • First wave possibly too low in calories for some.
  • Strict guidelines; straying not acceptable.
  • Misleading claim: while it claims not to be a low carb diet, it can in fact be classified as such.
  • Elaborate recipes.
  • The role of exercise is underemphasized.

My Professional Opinion

A Mediterranean style diet is generally a sound approach to eating. Rich in healthy fats from fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and plentiful in fruits and vegetables, it's a method of eating that can easily result in weight loss.

If you're a big meat eater, or have trouble skipping processed foods, this plan may not be for you.

Did YOU Ever Try The Sonoma Diet? Tell About Your Experience!

The best source of information on The Sonoma Diet is the people who have tried it. If you're one of them...

Did you lose weight? Were you able to keep it off? Are you still on it? How did you feel when you were on it? Would you recommend it to others?

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