So, what is the Sonoma diet? It is the linear descendant of the Mediterranean diet; a subset, if you will. It takes the standard Mediterranean diet and extracts those key features that make it unique and effective, then distills the whole thing down to a less-complicated action plan for healthy eating. You can see the Sonoma diet as a simplified Mediterranean diet, only re-purposed to promote weight loss and general healthy eating.
The Power Foods
The Sonoma diet menu has the following “power foods” from Mediterranean cuisine at its core:
* Whole grains – Of course, start out by throwing away that bleached, processed, ball of starch that is “white bread” and switch to whole grain breads and pastas.
* Almonds – A mere handful of almonds per day has been shown to cut cholesterol by as much as 10%. Almonds are good, nutty nutrition all by themselves, but if you grind them into a paste and add some sugar they become marzipan. See? You like almonds better already!
* Bell peppers – A great healthy veggie any time.
* Tomatoes – Yet another great healthy veggie.
* Broccoli – Perhaps one of the most under-appreciated foods out there. People unfairly put it in the same category as spinach, which is wrong, because spinach is nowhere near as versatile, whereas broccoli is at its best when fresh and eaten raw, like a carrot, but can also make a hearty part of any cooked dish. And we all know spinach makes Popeye strong, but broccoli has all of spinach’s benefits plus is high in vitamin C, betacarotene, and soluble fiber, and is one of the most powerful anti-cancer foods known to man. It is also anti-viral, anti-bacterial, if that isn’t enough.
* Grapes – Well, it wouldn’t be a Mediterranean-class diet without the grapes. If you’re cutting back on sugar, try fresh, cold grapes for dessert instead.
* Spinach – Kind of overkill with the broccoli. I guess it’s here for variety.
* Blueberries – For years, all we knew about blueberries was that they were great in pies and muffins. However, recent research has found that they’re ripping with antioxidants, reduce the risk of cancer, and even have benefits that fight aging conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
* Strawberries – Well, here’s another excellent dessert choice! Strawberries are actually more versatile than you might think, though. Since they are a good acidic fruit as well, there are recipes out there where strawberries get to show that they belong in the main course, as well.
* Olive oil – You would have to be living in a cave for the past decade to have not heard about the miraculous properties of olive oil, so I won’t go into it here again.
Before we get into the diet proper, let me just relate one interesting detail about the Sonoma diet: It advises using smaller size plates! Before you scoff, note that a recent bit of research uncovered a previously unnoticed fact: In trying to find out why Americans tend to be overweight more than Europeans, it was found that the chief difference between Europeans and Americans is that Europeans stop eating when they are full; Americans stop eating when their plate is empty!
If you are American, ask yourself: when was the last time you didn’t finish every last bite on your plate? Now what are the chances that however much food you took or were served was exactly how much food you needed, every time?
Registered dietitian and nutrition instructor Connie Guttersen, the author of the Sonoma diet, also advocates wines along with the diet plan. Hence the name comes from the Sonoma Valley area of California, USA. Wines, in and of themselves, have been touted recently for their health benefits as well, particularly their benefits to a healthy heart.
It is notable because not many diets try to teach you how to select the proper wine with each meal. In fact, the Sonoma diet is just a little bit more fun than other diet plans. You feel like it’s food for grown-ups, rather than some restrictive weight-watchers plan.
The Sonoma Diet
The diet shares some common features with the Atkins, Zone, and South Beach diets, since it proceeds through stages. When beginning the diet for weight loss purposes, you are limited in your choice of foods in the first weeks and allowed the full range of foods by the end of the course. While it is not a low-carb or low-sugar diet per se, the Sonoma diet plan does recommend avoiding white flour, saturated fats, and recipes with additional sugar.
The Sonoma diet is billed as “the most flavorful weight loss plan under the sun”, and actually emphasizes the joy of eating. But you will notice that it’s excluding lots of starch and fat, and preprocessed foods are off the bill as well. In fact, you’d better get to love your kitchen if you want to stick with the Sonoma diet – lots of prep-chef work here.
That being said, it does make very good sense when you consider that maybe the reason that some of us are overweight and undernourished is because we’re trying to satisfy our appetites with stale, factory-processed foods that are mostly fat and starch, instead of fresh, wholesome foods that pack every bite with vitamins and nutrients.
Your First Step
Before jumping into something which resembles the Mediterranean diet, we think it might be more usefull to learn more about the traditional Mediterranean diet first. Which is the very subject matter from where most if not all the research has been undertaken at the time of writing this. You can download it here from the website of the Mediterranean diet guide. Make sure you see the video. Stay healthy!