Health Library

Sonoma Diet

The Sonoma Diet is based on the Mediterranean way of eating. It focuses on “power foods” as well as enjoying the food you eat. You will eat whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, olive oil, fish, poultry, dairy products, and wine.

How This May Work

The idea is that you can feel full while eating healthful foods that encourage weight loss. To do this, you eat small amounts of flavorful, nutrient-rich foods.

How Do You Do It?

Key foods are whole grains, healthful fats, and fresh fruits and veggies. It also has some foods it calls “power foods.” These are nutrient-dense, flavorful foods that the author thinks will help you lose weight.

  • Almonds
  • Bell peppers
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Grapes
  • Olive oil
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole grains

The food plan is broken down into three stages, or “waves.” The first wave is the most limited. You don't eat fruits, sweet foods, and refined flour products. The second wave adds fruits back in. It also raises the number of calories you can eat. The third wave, which is the maintenance phase, lets you have lots of fruits and veggies as well as the rare indulgence. The theory is that portion control and healthful food choices should now come easily.

Wave Description

Wave 1

Lasts for 10 days—to jump start weight loss:

  • Limits calorie intake
  • Avoid all sweet foods, such as artificial sweeteners and fruit
  • Avoid refined flour products
  • Restricts dairy
  • Allows unlimited amounts of some veggies
  • Doesn't allow alcohol

Wave 2

Main part of the diet that you will follow until you reach your goal weight:

  • Raises calories
  • Adds fruits back in
  • Allows unlimited amounts of certain veggies (Some types of veggies need to be limited because they are high in sugar or starch. Potatoes need to be avoided.)
  • A daily glass of wine is encouraged

Wave 3

The maintenance phase starts when you have reached your goal weight

Allows for some indulgences, such as juice, dessert, potatoes, and dark chocolate.

This diet suggests eating three meals a day. Though, healthful snacks are allowed if you get very hungry between meals.

Unique to this diet is the special plate. It helps with portion control during waves one to two. For breakfast, you may fill up either a seven inch plate or a two cup bowl. For lunch and dinner, you may use a nine inch plate.

There is also the option to join the Sonoma online weight loss program. For a fee, you can get meal planning, a weight tracking tool, and support from dietitians.

What the Research Says

There isn't any research on this diet. It is based on well-established science and the book itself references many studies. The only part of this diet that lacks evidence is the thought that some healthful foods, such as fruits and starchy veggies, need to be avoided.


Until you get used to the Sonoma way of eating, you will have to measure some foods to get the right portion size and refer to food lists to find what you can eat. You should also plan to spend time planning and cooking your meals.

This diet encourages exercise, but its focus is on food and eating. You will need to exercise. It is a vital part of any weight loss program.

Bottom Line

This diet is healthful and effective. Its focus on eating healthful, nutrient-rich foods and the idea of savoring small amounts of good food is a positive way to diet. If you like cooking and like having a glass of wine with your dinner, this diet may be right for you.


Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders

Canadian Resources

Dietitians of Canada

Health Canada


Gutterson C. The Sonoma Diet. Des Moines, Iowa: Meredith Corporation; 2005.

Mediterranean diet. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: Updated August 10, 2018. Accessed December 6, 2018.

The new Sonoma diet. Available at: Accessed December 6, 2018.