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Sonoma Diet™


Also listed as: Diet, Sonoma
Related terms
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Related Terms
  • Connie Guterson, diet, diet book, diet website, Mediterranean diet, Sonoma DietT, The Sonoma Diet.

  • The Sonoma DietT is a weight loss diet based on the Mediterranean diet, but allows for a broader spectrum of foods to be consumed. "The Sonoma Diet" book and wine series emphasizes that eating is an activity to be enjoyed; it promotes portion control and careful selection of foods, but promises delicious recipes. The diet does not instruct its followers to avoid carbohydrates, healthy fats, or whole grains.
  • The Mediterranean diet is based on healthy eating and lifestyle habits of the people living in southern Italy, the Greek island of Crete, and other areas of Greece in the early 1960s. The Sonoma DietT uses the Mediterranean diet as a framework, but adapts the diet to include mostly American food choices.
  • The Mediterranean diet became a popular area of study due to observations made in the 1960s of low incidences of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high cholesterol. Additionally, high life-expectancy rates exist among populations who consumed a traditional Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet gained much recognition and worldwide interest in the 1990s as a model for healthful eating. Riding the wave of interest in the Mediterranean diet, "The Sonoma Diet" bookwas published in 2005, at about the same time that American popular culture began to revere wines from this region of California.
  • The Sonoma DietT is rich in heart-healthy fiber and nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. The diet generally includes: fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated "good" fats, particularly olive oil. Olive oil has been associated with benefits such as lower blood pressure and a lower risk for heart disease. In addition, olive oil may benefit people with type 2 diabetes.
  • The popularity of the Sonoma DietT rides on the trend of diets that encourage people to eat a balanced diet as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Theory / Evidence
  • Weight loss is recommended for those who are obese (BMI ?30kg/m2) and for those who are classified as overweight (BMI of 25-29.9kg/m2) or have a high waist circumference and two or more risk factors.
  • The Sonoma DietT encourages moderate consumption of wines with meals. Wine, particularly red wine, contains resveratrol, a chemical that has been shown in recent animal and laboratory studies to exhibit antioxidant, anticancer, antiproliferative, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial effects. While data in humans is lacking, moderate consumption of wine is also a part of the Mediterranean diet.
  • Olive oil, the main fatty component of the Sonoma DietT, is characterized by monounsaturated fatty acids as well as by its elevated content of antioxidant agents. An antioxidant is thought to protect the body's cells from the damaging effects of oxidation by scavenging for free radicals (highly reactive molecules that attack cells in the body) generated during the metabolic processes of the body. The high portion of monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil may cause a decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol, which may diminish the risk of suffering from heart troubles. Although there have been several studies linking olive oil consumption to cholesterol regulation and free radical scavenging in humans, animal studies have suggested that fats (olive oil) in the Sonoma DietT may harm blood vessels. Thus, there is still controversy over the safety and efficacy of olive oil and its role in the Sonoma DietT.
  • Wine and olive oil, essential components of the Sonoma DietT, are considered important additions to a healthy lifestyle because of their tyrosol and caffeic acid content. Tyrosol is a substance that may help prevent "bad" cholesterol. Studies have suggested that caffeic acid may have antimitogenic, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties.
  • A 2007 article in the "Mayo Clinic Proceedings" stated that treatment of obesity requires a physician and patient to tackle diet, physical activity, and behavioral issues. In some cases, medication and surgical treatments not discussed in the Sonoma DietT may be warranted.


Author information
  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. .
  2. American Dietetic Association. .
  3. American Heart Association. .
  4. Sonoma Diet. .
  5. Thompson WG, Cook DA, Clark MM, et al. Treatment of obesity. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007 Jan;82(1):93-101; quiz 101-2. .
  6. United States Department of Agriculture. .

  • The Sonoma DietT advocates that individuals should eat primarily foods from the website and book series. This diet involves a lot of cooking from fresh ingredients. If readers deviate from the recipes endorsed by the Sonoma DietT, it is suggested that they choose ingredients from a pre-approved list.
  • Lean meats, fresh vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and wine are the staples of the Sonoma DietT.
  • Many of the foods advocated by the Sonoma DietT are also functional foods. Functional foods, also called nutraceuticals (a combination of the words "nutrition" and "pharmaceuticals"), are considered to be any food that possesses beneficial health and wellness properties beyond the well proven nutritional benefits a person might find on the food label. The supposed benefits of functional foods go beyond the dietary needs listed on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) food pyramid. The USDA defines functional food as "any food, modified food or food ingredient that provides structural, functional or health benefits, thus promoting optimal health, longevity and quality of life." Foods might inherently possess these supposedly beneficial qualities, or they may be fortified and/or genetically modified. A common example is yogurt, which often contains live bacterial cultures known as probiotics. These fermented foods are thought to promote a healthy environment in the body.
  • The Sonoma Diet takes place in three phases, which are called "Waves."
  • Wave 1: This 10-day period is designed to eliminate large amounts of sugars, refined flour products, and most junk food from the diet. Examples include products containing refined sugar, non-whole grains, and anything containing large amounts of hydrogenated or saturated fats. These foods are permanently eliminated from the diet. Other foods, such as fruit, are not eaten during this period but integrated back into the diet in later waves. People usually lose between two and five pounds during this period.
  • Wave 2: This wave is designed as the stage where the reader adopts habits of long term weight loss. During this time, individuals are encouraged to consume fruit, vegetables, fat-free yogurt, and moderate amounts of wine. Occasionally, individuals may consume honey or dark chocolate. People usually lose 0.5 to 1.5 pounds per week in this wave. The reader stays in this wave until he or she achieves his or her target weight loss goal.
  • Wave 3: The reader enters this stage when they have lost their target amount of weight. Occasional treats such as soda, butter, and dark chocolate are permitted.
  • All food eaten in the Sonoma DietT is subject to portion control. Recipes are geared towards a seven-inch plate and a two-cup bowl.
  • The Sonoma DietT endorses physical activity, though it is not stressed.
  • An individual abides by the Sonoma DietT through a variety of utilities available in the book and on the website. Meal planners, shopping lists, a weight tracker, and a food diary are also available through the website. Individuals who pay a fee too the Sonoma DietT website may participate in message boards and other aspects of an online community.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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