What if we could tell you that you could lose weight without counting calories or shunning carbs, and everything on your plate would be delicious? Welcome to the Sonoma Diet. This new diet is based on the age-old Mediterranean Diet, which is well know for good health, but isn't exactly a weight loss diet. The Sonoma Diet takes the principles of the Mediterranean diet and structures them for weight loss.
Then they add the flavors and foods made famous by the California Sonoma. What we end up with is a healthy, balanced diet that tastes good, and will help us lose weight.
The Sonoma Diet was created by Dr. Connie Guttersen a registered dietitian and nutrition instructor at the world-famous Culinary Institute of America. She is also a leading expert on the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.
Like other popular diets, such as South Beach and Atkins, there are three phases to the Sonoma Diet. These phases are referred to as Waves. Wave 1 helps you kick your sugar habit and lose a few pounds quickly, and lasts 10 days. Wave 2 is the main part of the diet where you will continue until you reach your goal. Wave 3 is maintenance.
What will you eat on this plan?
Whole grain breads and cereals, pasta, nuts, figs, fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and more. The Sonoma Diet calls for 10 power foods that you should give priority to, including almonds, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, grapes, olive oil, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and whole grains. You can create dishes such as Grilled Chicken with Tomato Bean Salad, Smoked Salmon Frittata, and Greek Pizza. These recipes, and many more, can be found in the Sonoma Diet book.
The food lists are extensive, and you can eat foods that other diets prohibit, such as whole grain breads from Day 1. The fruits and vegetables are separated into two lists of Tier Foods which determine how much you get to eat. You can eat unlimited amounts of Tier 1 foods. You will limit the amounts of Tier 2 foods. You'll eat plenty of meats and other protein sources, but they should be lean. Olive oil is the fat of choice.
So, what's the trick?
Portion control. Guttersen teaches us how to portion the food on our plates so we get the right amounts of the right foods, and avoid overeating. We are told how much to eat for each meal. The portions are different for each wave.
During Waves 1 and 2, breakfast will be served on a 7 inch place. You will fill 75% of the plate with protein (such as scrambled eggs) and 25% with whole grains, such as a slice of whole grain toast. If you like cereal for breakfast, then you are in luck. Start with a 2 cup bowl and fill it halfway with whole grain cereal, then add skim milk.
Lunches and dinners will be served on 9 inch plates. During Wave 1, lunch will consist of 40% protein and 60% Tier 1 vegetables. Dinner includes 30% protein, 20% grains, and 50% Tier 1 vegetables. When you enter Wave 2, lunch and dinner will be more balanced. Each meal will consist of 25% each grains, protein/dairy, fruit, and vegetables. You won't need calculators or special tools to achieve the percentages. Just mentally divide your plate into sections, then fill it up!
Wine and Chocolate
Beginning with Wave 2, you can have a glass of wine every night, and a small piece of dark chocolate three times a week. What other weight loss diet offers you that? Both wine and dark chocolate are high in antioxidants which help protect your heart health. We learned more about this when we heard of the Polymeal last year. The term "Polymeal" may not be in the book, but all of the principles are there. The Polymeal consists of wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruit and vegetables, garlic and almonds. All of these components are provided by the Sonoma Diet. Studies have shown that the Polymeal can extend your life by at least 5 years, and also delay the onset of heart disease by 9 years. It just keeps getting better, doesn't it?
We already know that exercise is the other half of the weight loss equation, but it's still helpful when the diet author stresses it as well. Though Guttersen tells us that we must exercise, there is little emphasis on the topic in the book. She uses about 2 pages to explain why we should exercise on this plan, but does not offer many recommendations. We suggest that you check out our popular fitness forums for suggestions and motivation to move more every day.
What we like about the book
We think the Sonoma Diet book was well written in a way to help us prepare for the diet in every way. The Waves are explained very well. There's even a heavy card stock pull-out list of foods and diagrams of the Wave Plates, to make it even easier. A chapter entitled Diet Survival 101 covers any concerns you may have about this diet, and is even helpful for other diet plans.
The Sonoma Diet book is brand new, released on Dec 27, 2005. So you may not have heard much about it yet. The book is available in bookstores now. You can also purchase it online via Amazon.