Weight Loss

The Skinny on: The Sonoma Diet

April 15, 2011

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This post is part of a regular feature I’ve got planned: reviews of popular diets. If there’s a diet you’d like me to review, send me a message, or use the comments below!

So…the Sonoma Diet. This was created by Dr. Connie Guttersen, a registered dietitian with a Ph.D in nutrition who lives in California.

Essentially, this is a diet inspired by the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle…with a weight-loss spin, and a nod to the cuisine of the California wine region Sonoma valley. (sidebar: love Sonoma; it’s where I got engaged. If you get a chance, you gotta visit!)

What I like about the Sonoma Diet:

For starters, recommending the Mediterranean diet is a solid approach. There’s heaps of research showing that the Mediterranean diet is supaah for your health. It lowers your rate of heart disease, cancer…all sorts of nasty stuff. It seems like every other day I come across another study touting the benefits of the Med diet.

Guttersen uses a “plate-and-bowl” concept for her diet, which I like. Super-easy to use, no-brainer and zero time involved. No counting calories or anything else. Just fill your plate or bowl according to simple percentages (think pie chart), depending on the meal. For example, in Wave 1: for dinner, use a 9 inch plate, and fill it with 30% protein, 20% grains, 50% veggies.

I like the lifestyle approach–the emphasis on whole foods and the enjoyment and pleasure of food. Too many diets are restrictive and, frankly, miserable. A recipe for cheating if you ask me. The Sonoma Diet is the opposite of this. (Very much in keeping with my Wicked Healthy philosophy, incidentally).

Guttersen frequently mentions the health benefits of this diet beyond simply losing weight, which is fab. It’s important to keep bigger health goals in mind beyond just looking good in a bikini. Like reducing heart disease, decreasing inflammation, preventing cancer. Guttersen repeatedly stresses the importance of power foods like olive oil and tomatoes (yum!)…foods that are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.

Perhaps my fave part of this diet is that you’re encouraged to drink a glass of wine every day. Every. Day. Love it.

What I don’t like about the Sonoma Diet:

I’m not so crazy about the de-emphasis on cheese and dairy. I’m a fan of dairy. It’s a great source of protein, calcium…all sorts of goodies.

There’s no modification of the diet for men, for women, for people larger or smaller than average, or for varying activity levels. One-size-fits-all portions and proportions don’t make a lot of sense to me. Granted, there’s a little of this, when she mentions snacks, but not enough.

The meal plans are primarily structured around Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. To me, there should be more snacks. I think diets (and healthy eating, in general) works best if there are structured snacks between meals. Eating every 3 hours or so to keep blood sugar from doing major spikes and dips is the way to go. She really only says “you may” have a snack to tide you over.

The diet completely nixes sugar (including fruit) in Wave 1, and the idea is so you can “eliminate” sugar cravings by the end of those 10 days. And here’s where she loses me. I’m highly skeptical than anyone can forevermore lose their cravings for sugar by simply not having sugary stuff for 10 days. Pinning your hopes on this fantasy is a setup for failure. You really need to have a more realistic way of approaching sugar cravings.

In the third part of the diet, which starts after you’ve reached your target weight, Guttersen gets a little thin on the advice. I kinda felt like I’d been left to fend for myself here, and would have appreciated more specific guidelines and strategies in the maintenance phase.

I Would Recommend the Sonoma Diet for…

People who love food, love flavors, and love to linger over meals. (hmm…is there anyone who doesn’t fit into this category?)

People who enjoy cooking (and have time to cook). A key part of the diet is making your own meals. Granted, the recipes look/sound absolutely mouthwatering. But ya gotta have the time to make them.

People who aren’t looking for quick-fix, fad-type solutions to weight loss.

People who don’t want to count calories, look up GI points, or do any other food math.

Basically, I’m a big fan of this diet.


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