Popular Diets Reviewed: The Sonoma Diet

Patient Expert

The Sonoma Diet, named after the California wine country and inspired by the Mediterranean diet, promotes a largely plant-based diet with lean meats and monounsaturated fats.

This diet allows participants to eat foods from all the food groups. This diet is about eating small amounts of high quality foods and taking the time to savor your meals.

The Sonoma diet encourages fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, skinless white meat poultry, lead red meats, lamb, pork, veal, eggs, non-fat dairy, soybeans and lots of fish. Olive oil and nuts are the main fat sources in this diet.

Wave 1
Similar to the South Beach and Atkins diet, this plan includes different phases that are more lenient as you reach different stages of your weight loss. There are three "waves� in this diet. The first wave lasts 10 days and is designed to help you become accustomed to eating meals that are made from fresh ingredients instead of processed foods that are high in refined sugars and flours. The diet promises rapid weight loss during this period.

The book says that wave 1 will break your bad eating habits that caused you to gain weight. These destructive behaviors include, overdependence of refined foods, eating whatever is available and overeating. Before you start wave 1 the book tells you to go through your kitchen and throw out any foods that contain refined wheat or processed grains like cake mixes, pasta, sugared cereals, potato chips and any other foods with hydrogenated oils. You can keep your wine, but should put it away until you get to wave 2.

During wave 1 you are allowed to have unlimited non-starchy vegetables and limited quantities of beans, legumes, meats and poultry, non-fat dairy and whole grains. You are limited to 3 teaspoons of olive oil, canola oil, avocado and selected nuts. The Sonoma diet doesn't provide portion sizes and you don't have to count calories, instead it you use your plate as your guide. But not just any plate. On the Sonoma diet, your breakfast should be on a 7-inch plate or in a 2-inch bowl and lunch and dinner should be on a 9-inch plate.

Wave 2
You stay in wave 2 until you've reached your goal weight. While wave 1 provides rapid weight loss, this wave provides continues weight loss though not as rapid. The diet promises a heightened appreciation of fresh, wholesome foods and a new energy. You are encouraged to continue to eat slowly and savor every bite during this phase. While the plate sizes stay the same in wave 1, what you put on your plate for each meal is different. The major difference between wave 1 and wave 2 is the addition of fruit and wine during wave 2.

Wave 3
The final phase of the diet is maintenance or "The Sonoma Diet Lifestyle". At this point, the author says you know will no longer have physical or mental cravings for white breads and refined sugars. You should have also discovered the pleasure of wholesome, natural foods and you've learned to keep saturated fat intake to a minimum. This phase is about turning your previous weight loss efforts into a lifestyle for weight maintenance and overall good health. During this phase your intake is not limited, but you are strongly encouraged to follow the guidelines of phase 2.

My Thoughts
Written by a dietitian, the Sonoma diet does outline a well-balanced diet. It seems very similar to the South Beach Diet, though without as many recipes. I have to say I found this book much easier to read than the South Beach diet book.

As with other diets, weight loss on this plan is most likely due to the decrease in calories. But for someone who needs a list of foods to focus on, this plan provides well-balanced recommendations. The focus on whole grains, lean meats and mono-unsaturated fats is within the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines.

The Sonoma diet also includes information on how to withstand cravings for foods that aren't on the diet. It was refreshing to see that the author admits that cravings still do exist and provides the reader with tools to deal with them. However, I do not believe the promise that by the end of wave 2 you will no longer experience cravings for processed foods. As I've mentioned before, emotional eating ques still exist long after you've changed your eating habits.

My biggest concern with this diet is that the plate sizes are very small and I'm not entirely sure they're reasonable. A 7-inch plate may be hard to find and will be quite a shock. To give you an idea of how small that is, I measured my dinner plates and my salad plates were 8 ½ inches. I don't have particularly large plates by today's standards, so it could be difficult to find a 7-inch plate. And for someone who is used to eating on a plate that is twice that big, that is an enormous decrease in food intake.

*** Grade: B+.** With the exception of wave 1, this diet includes all the food groups. It encourages whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and non-fat dairy. It also focuses on heart health monounsaturated fats.

*** Popular Diet Rating Syste:** This diet meets accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It recommends food from all food groups with an emphasis on healthy choices within each food group.
B: This diet meets most accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It emphasizes healthy foods but does not include food from all food groups.
C: This diet only meets some accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It does not differentiate between food choices in each food group and therefore does not emphasize healthy foods.
D: This diet does only meets one or two accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet.
F: This diet does not meet any accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It does not differentiate between healthy foods and unhealthy foods and/or does not meet caloric needs.