Sonoma Diet is one of the more popular diets on the lower carb trend, with a Mediterranean twist. Written by registered dietician Connie Guttersen, Ph.D., the diet is inspired by the sun-soaked Sonoma wine region of California. The diet claims not to be a low fat or low carb diet, but we would classify it as "lower carb"--not draconian as there are no explicit restrictions, but if you tot up the figures for a typical diet, it is slightly lower than the norm for carbohydrates. Likewise, the fresh, natural whole foods the Sonoma Diet emphasizes place it firmly in the Low Glycemic Index camp.
In the initial 10 day "Wave 1" of the diet (as with phase 1 of Atkins, South Beach, etc.), you avoid all sweet and refined foods. Some people may go into withdrawal at this point over carb cravings, but if you can get past this, you make it to Wave 2, which is the heart of the diet. This is more permissive in terms of carbs, and includes fruits and even wine (it is called the Sonoma Diet after all). Wave 3 is the lifelong maintenance phase for after you've lost the weight.
The method for determining portion size is certainly novel--you fill portions of smaller plates (7-inch diameter for breakfast, 9-inch for lunch and dinner) with specific food categories. Of course there is room for cheating here (how heaped should the food be for instance?), but the smaller plate idea is in itself a useful dieting tactic.
The diet emphasizes 10 "Power Foods" (almonds, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, grapes, olive oil, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and whole grains) that deliver nutritional heart protection with minimum calories, and these foods are prepared in optimal combinations. We can't fault the diet for nutrition or for taste, but it is not a crash diet, and you should expect to lose no more than 1 to 1.5 pounds per week, a healthy, sustainable rate.
We have several criticisms of the Sonoma Diet--first there's not enough emphasis on exercise, which can really jump start weight loss due the synergistic effect it has in combination with dieting. Likewise, it appears to be more complex and restrictive then needed. The Sonoma Diet does require more preparation than other lower carb diets, so really is aimed more at the foodie with more time to prepare tasty, but healthy fare--certainly you don't often see diet books recommending wines to go with your meals!
Menu: Again, the Sonoma Diet emphasizes healthy, fresh, and tasty whole foods prepared at home, and these are usually considerably more expensive than standard diet fare. Unlike most diets, this is a culinary adventure, and does require some unusual foods and a fair amount of prep time, but at least it tastes good. In fact, some reviewers note that they've rarely used cookbooks that so consistently deliver great tasting recipes.
For those who want more, there is also the The Sonoma Diet Cookbook
, with 150 recipes.
Prices: The Sonoma Diet retails for $15, but you can get it much cheaper on Amazon for around $6.