Sonoma Diet Review

What is it?

For a weight-loss diet that puts as much emphasis on the joy of food as the shedding of unwanted pounds, look no further than the Sonoma Diet (check out the book at Created by registered dietitian Connie Guttersen, the Sonoma Diet — which is named after California’s sun-drenched Sonoma Valley region — champions the flavorful and healthy foods of the Mediterranean and does not put its followers through the trials and tribulations of gram and calorie counting.

“Flavor is an important part of health and weight loss,” writes Guttersen. “With most diets, you’re counting the days until it’s over. They don’t stick with you as a lifestyle.” The Sonoma Diet is also unusual in its support for moderate wine consumption.

Guttersen, who lives and works in California‘s wine country, says a glass of wine a day with meals is part of healthy diet because it encourages diners to eat slower, savor their foods and, perhaps, eat less.

How it works

The Sonoma Diet promotes consumption of 10 “power foods.” These are:

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

Guttersen touts the foods for both their taste and the contribution they make to good health and weight loss. Simply put, they “offer the most nutritional bang for the calorie buck,” she argues. The book contains 500 recipes, while the associated website,, has even more. Most of the recipes incorporate one or more of the power foods.

Guttersen describes Sonoma Diet as neither low-fat nor low-carb. Rather, she emphasizes that it’s a diet offering the right balance of nutrients to promote good health and weight loss. When it comes to portion control, followers of the diet are taught to eyeball the amount of food on their plates. Each meal comes with specific instructions for the size of the plate or bowl to be used.

The diet is structured in three waves:

Wave One

This phase of the diet lasts 10 days and is the most severe in its restriction of calorie intake. Dieters are told empty their cupboards of foods containing refined flours, non-whole grains, hydrogenated and saturated fats, sugars, and any oil that isn’t extra-virgin olive oil, nut oil, or canola oil. Fruits are also prohibited as part of an effort to wean the body of sugar cravings.

Foods that are permitted include certain vegetables, lean meats, seafood, limited dairy, some grains. This wave also allows three daily servings of olive or canola oil, a small amount of nuts, black coffee, tea, and an unlimited number of herbs and spices.

In general, Guttersen says, dieters will shed two to five pounds of fat during the diet’s initial wave.

Wave Two

During the second stage of the program, dieters eat the same foods as in wave one, but add fruit, additional vegetables, fat-free yogurt, some sugar-free sweets, an occasional piece of dark chocolate, honey, and some wine. Wave two is the primary weight loss phase, and dieters are encouraged to stick with it until they reach their desired weight. Guttersen says weekly weight loss should range from 1/2 pound to 1 1/2 pounds.

It’s reasonable to question why the diet requires wave one, with its severe calorie restriction, when wave two does the heavy lifting as far as producing weight loss results. But the quick weight loss associated with wave one will doubtless give dieters an early psychological boost and may provide the encouragement they need to stay on track.

Wave Three

Once you’ve reached your desired weight, it’s time to move on to the diet’s final phase, which is a life-long maintenance diet. This stage is based on the same healthy eating principles as waves one and two, but boosts servings of fruits and vegetables and permits indulging in occasional treats.


The Sonoma Diet’s extensive selection of Mediterranean-style recipes is organized based on breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The following are some examples. To view the actual recipes, visit the website.


* Broccoli-Pepper Frittata
* Buckwheat and Pear Pancakes
* Mushroom Omelet
* Scrambled Eggs with Feta and Dill


* Greek Pizza
* Chicken-Veggie Pita Sandwich
* Chile-Mint Burgers
* Tangy Black Bean Soup


* Marinated Flank Steak
* Roasted Vegetable Medley
* Grilled Bass with Strawberry Salsa
* Bistro Chicken and Garlic


* Peachy Berry Cobbler
* Apple-Blueberry Tart
* Tropical Fruit Pops
* Citrus Granita


The Sonoma Diet encourages exercise to accelerate weight loss and assist in ongoing weight maintenance.

The good

As a registered dietitian with a PhD in nutrition, Guttersen certainly has the credentials to provide sound advice on healthy eating. The Sonoma Diet is a structured weight loss program that emphasizes a Mediterranean plant-based diet and encourages enjoyment of meals. For dieters tired of eating foods that are tasteless but good for them, this aspect of the diet alone is enough to make it worth exploring further.

You can follow the diet either by buying the book or joining the website. Members gain access to 14 online tools, including a meal planner, wine guide and weight tracker. Website members also gain access to registered dietitians and an online community of fellow dieters.

The bad

Wave one calorie levels are low and may deny followers of the diet sufficient nutrients to meet their needs. Guttersen recognizes this and recommends a basic multivitamin and calcium supplement. The diet seeks to help people to break their addictions to sugar, but the American Dietetic Association says the jury is still out on whether such an addition is possible. Finally, Sonoma Diet recommends exercise but does not incorporate it as a fundamental part of the program.

The cost

The cost of the online membership is $US4.00 a week.

The bottom line

The Sonoma Diet doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It builds on the healthy Mediterranean diet theme, offering a balanced, moderate approach to losing pounds and maintaining a healthy weight. Guttersen believes eating foods that not only are good for you but also taste good can lead to positive fundamental lifestyle change. The more interest we take in foods with the right nutritional content and the more pride we take in preparation of our meals, the more likely we are to eat healthy on a regular basis. Who can argue with that? The Sonoma Diet is one of the better diets available, but it also delivers a message we should we would all benefit from embracing.