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Healthy Women's World

The Sonoma Diet

The Sonoma Diet is a new way of eating. Meals are all about celebration and not deprivation. You won't lose weight by avoiding food. You'll lose weight by enjoying food — delicious, flavorful, rich food.

The best way to lose weight is to love what you eat, and not deny yourself the foods you enjoy. On The Sonoma Diet, you'll be enjoying whole grains, meats, vegetables, cheese — and even wine!

The Sonoma Diet is a weight loss plan that promotes the healthy and flavorful eating style of the Mediterranean and Sonoma Valley. Flavorful foods are an important part of the plan and they help you stick to the plan, loose weight and choose a healthier new lifestyle.

The core of the Sonoma Diet is the power foods which are incorporated into many meals and recipes in the book. They are almonds, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, grapes, olive oil, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes and whole grains. They are all not only delicious but are in the right portions, essential to good health and weight loss. Whole grains and breads are allowed on the diet from day one. But some foods with saturated fat, added sugar and refined white flour are not allowed on the program.

Connie Guttersen, PhD, RD, is the author of The Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, Better Health in Just 10 Days! Guttersen offers a creative approach to encourage people to change their eating behaviors. Her emphasis is food enjoyment, portion control, food label reading and eliminating trans-fats. She identifies the diet as neither low- fat nor low- carbohydrate. She indicates it has the right balance of nutrients to ensure health, weight loss and satisfaction.

The Sonoma Diet has three waves to Weight loss.

Wave 1 is a 10-day period in which dieters can eat certain vegetables, lean meats, seafood, limited dairy, some grains, thee daily servings of olive or canola oil, a small amount of nuts, black coffee, tea, and an unlimited amount of herbs and spices. This wave is the most extreme and its purpose is to wean the body from sugar. This wave will produce rapid weight loss depending on the person and the amount of weight they need to loose.

Wave 2 allows the same foods as Wave 1, but adds more fruits, more vegetables, fat-free yogurt, some sugar free sweets, some dark chocolate, honey and some wine. In this wave weight loss is more gradual and approximately ½-1.5 pounds a week. Dieters stay in this wave until they reach their target weight.

The final stage-Wave 3- promotes the same principles of healthy eating as the prior waves but recommends increasing servings of fruits and vegetables and indulging in occasional treats. It also recommends more experimentation with different foods and different ways of enjoying meals.

What You Can Eat on the Sonoma Diet

What can you eat on the Sonoma Diet? What shouldn’t you eat? Here are the essential food lists to go by.

Power Foods

These foods have been dubbed "power foods" because of their nutritional value, and should be eaten often on the Sonoma Diet. These are in alphabetical and not priority order.
  • Almonds
  • Bell Peppers (all colors, possibly particularly red)
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Grapes
  • Olive Oil (extra virgin preferred)
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole Grains

Meats and Other Protein

On the Sonoma Diet, meats and other protein sources (such as soy and eggs) should be low in saturated fat and without extra breading or other sources of carbohydrate.

This list includes which cuts of beef, pork, and poultry fit into these categories, as well as a complete list of approved protein foods.


There are three "Tiers" of vegetables on the Sonoma Diet. Tier One includes all the vegetables except for artichokes, pea pods, chili peppers, and the six vegetables at the end of the list. For the first ten days, only Tier One vegetables are allowed. Tier Two Vegetables are essentially the the rest of the regular low carb vegetable list except for pea pods, but including beets. In Wave Two, one of these can be included daily. Tier Three Vegetables are the starchy ones, including winter squashes, corn, sweet potato (or yam), taro and peas (including pods). In Wave Two, one of these can also be included daily. Potatoes are not allowed in Wave One or Two.


No fruit in Wave One. In Wave Two, two servings of fruit per day are allowed, only one of which can be any of the following: banana, elderberry, fig, guava, jackfruit, jujube, mango, nectarine, passion fruit, peach, pear, persimmon, plantain, pomegranate. A serving is a small fruit or ½ cup fruit.

Whole Grains

During Wave One, two servings of whole grains are allowed each day (one seems to be mandatory). During Wave Two, three or four daily servings are allowed - at least two seem to be mandatory.

Whole Grain Servings must be 100% whole grain and can consist of:

    1) Whole grain bread - must say 100% whole wheat or other whole grain - every grain listed on the label must say "whole". Each slice of bread must have at least two grams of fiber. Bread including cracked wheat is even better.

    2) Whole grain cereals - Cereals must also be entirely of whole grains. Additionally, each serving should have at least 8 grams of fiber. This means that the cereal must have added bran. For example "Total" is whole grain, but there is not enough fiber to qualify, as whole grains alone aren't high enough in fiber.

    3) Whole grain pasta - Again, make sure it is totally whole grain. ½ cup is one serving. Soba noodles which are 100% buckwheat are one whole-grain option.

    4) Cooked whole grains (serving=½ cup), including:

    • Barley
    • Brown, red, or black rice
    • Bulgar
    • Oats - groats, rolled oats, groats, or oat bran
    • Quinoa
    • Wheat berries or cracked wheat
    • Wild rice

    5) Popcorn - As part of a snack, popcorn can be included, if air-popped and without butter.

    Dairy Products

    Wave One:
    • Low Fat Cottage Cheese can be used as a protein
    • Up to one cup of fat free milk per day is allowed
    • One ounce of Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese is allowed

    In Wave Two, one cup of plain fat-free yogurt can be added.

    Beans and Other Legumes

    Beans and other legumes, such as those on this list, are allowed, although limited to ½ cup per day in Wave One.

    Fats, Oils, and Nuts

    Up to three servings per day from the following list:
    • Olive oil, 1 teaspoon
    • Canola oil, 1 teaspoon
    • Avocado, ¼
    • Almonds, 11
    • Peanuts, 14
    • Pecans, 10 halves
    • Walnuts, 7 halves

    Also, in Wave 2, 2 Tablespoons peanut butter can be used as a protein, or 1 Tablespoon as part of a snack

    Condiments and Sauces

    Condiments and sauces that avoid sugars and saturated fats are the key.


    The following beverages are allowed during Wave One of the Sonoma Diet:
    • Water, plain or sparkling
    • Tea - black, green, or herbal, no cream or sugar
    • Coffee - black, or with up to 2 packets artificial sweetener per day and/or up to 1 Tablespoon heavy cream per day

    Artificially sweetened drinks such as diet soda are discouraged, but allowed, up to two cans per day.

    For Wave Two, 6 ounces of wine per day can be added

    Forbidden Foods

    The Sonoma Diet emphasizes foods that you CAN have, by telling you how to fill your plate or bowl with each meal. In this way, the focus is not on "Forbidden" foods, and in fact, the book does not use this word. Nevertheless, there are lists of foods to rid your kitchen of. Most of these are foods which are high in refined carbohydrates and/or saturated or trans fat, including:

    • Sugar, or foods with added sugars
    • Processed grains, or foods containing them (except as listed on the Grains List e.g. packaged cereals, even whole grain cereals, are usually processed)
    • Refined grains (which don't say "whole" in front of each grain on the label) or foods containing them.

      "Wheat" or "wheat flour" without the word "whole" is usually a code word for "white". This includes white rice. "Flour" listed alone is always white flour.

    • Potatoes
    • Cakes, cookies, muffins, etc.
    • Crackers, unless whole grain
    • Cereals, unless whole grain and at least 8 grams of fiber per serving
    • Chips
    • Ice cream
    • Jams and Jellies
    • Maple Syrup
    • Regular Soda and other sweetened beverages
    • Juices
    • Oils except for extra virgin olive oil, nut oils, and canola oil
    • Mayonnaise
    • Creamy salad dressings
    • Butter
    • Margarine
    • Dairy products that are not fat-free, including cheese, cream cheese, milk, etc.
    • Fatty meats such as bacon or sausage
    • Anything with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats in it

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