Morgan is a doctoral candidate in the field of clinical nutrition and nutritional neuroscience, having received her bachelors degree from Central Washington University.
The Sonoma Diet is meant to evoke the lifestyle of the diets’ namesake region, Sonoma California. It focuses on healthy whole foods with a Mediterranean flair, and emphasizes a certain style of eating: one that is slow, mindful, and indulgent. The diet is divided into three “waves”, segments with different rules. Wave one lasts for ten days and is intended to promote the fastest rate of weight loss of any of the “waves”. Wave one teaches you to be choosy with processed foods and encourages the consumption of healthier "power foods" in their place, with the intent of reducing Caloric intake. Wave one prohibits alcohol, fruit, refined carbohydrates, and starchy vegetables, but encourages the consumption of lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Wave two lasts until you arrive at your goal weight, adding back foods like fruit, sugar-free treats, and up to 6 oz wine per day. Wave three focuses on long-term lifestyle maintenance to prevent regaining lost weight.
Nutritionist Connie Guttersen, PhD, developed the Sonoma diet to teach mindful eating and help dieters focus on healthy, whole foods to encourage weight loss. Inspired by her research into the health benefits of Mediterranean-style diets, Guttersen created a plan that relied on Mediterranean principles with a dash of the California Wine Country in her book The New Sonoma Diet.
Most dieters will be able to grit their teeth through the first 10 days (wave one) but may struggle long-term with cravings; The Sonoma Diet is indeed a very healthy one, but a diet with greater flexibility is usually best for dieters who truly enjoy some processed foods, and want to know how to have them in moderation.
This diet is not cost-prohibitive; the only cost to members is food, and the optional book and or cookbook. Free online resources are available.
The Sonoma Diet will likely require more time in meal preparation than most people are accustomed to, but not to the point of being prohibitive. The diet does not employ any particular fitness plan, which saves time, but fails to engage dieters in beneficial physical activity.
Overall, the Sonoma Diet is safe and balanced. However, you should always discuss any dietary changes with your doctor or healthcare team, especially if you have a preexisting condition.
The Sonoma Diet is not a particularly contentious plan, as it focuses on healthy, whole foods and encourages healthy eating principles.
Benefits: The Sonoma Diet encourages mindful eating, which can help dieters recognize hunger and satiety cues, and improve the eating experience. The diet also encourages the consumption of healthy, fresh, whole foods.
Downsides: Wave one may scare some dieters away from the plan, as it encourages dieters to toss all packaged foods and focus on a rigorously healthy eating plan. Furthermore, the diet uses plate size as a measuring tool; while this is more helpful than eating carte blanche, dieters will ultimately struggle without knowing how to measure food and account for Caloric intake. Dieters may also struggle without social support. Unless family and friends are also partaking in a Sonoma-style eating plan, many dieters will become discouraged and ultimately return to their previous eating style.
The Bottom Line: Overall, the Sonoma is a very safe and healthy one, but its low flexibility and lack of social support and motivation will ultimately derail many dieters.