The Sonoma Diet is based on a Mediterranean-style diet, with emphasis on “power foods,” as well as the appreciation and enjoyment of food. (The Mediterranean diet refers to the traditional eating patterns of the Mediterranean region and consists mainly of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil, fish, poultry, dairy products, and wine.)

How Is This Diet Supposed to Work?

The premise of this diet is that you can feel satisfied while eating a healthful diet that promotes weight loss by savoring small amounts of flavorful, nutrient-rich foods.

What’s Involved?

Key foods included on this diet are whole grains, healthful fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, this diet has labeled certain foods as “power foods.” These are nutrient-dense, flavorful foods that the author believes will help in the weight loss effort.

  • Sonoma Diet’s Top 10 Power Foods
  • Almonds
  • Bell peppers
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Grapes
  • Olive oil
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole grains

The Sonoma diet is broken down into three stages, or “waves.” The first wave is the most restrictive, completely eliminating fruits and other sweet foods, as well as refined flour products. The second wave adds fruits back into the diet and increases the number of calories that are permitted. The third wave, which is the maintenance phase, allows unlimited fruits and vegetables as well as the occasional indulgence. The theory is that, by this point, portion control and healthful food choices should come naturally.


Wave 1

Lasts for 10 days; “jump starts” your weight loss

  • Restricts calorie intake
  • Eliminates all sweet foods, including artificial sweeteners and fruit
  • Eliminates refined flour products
  • Restricts dairy
  • Allows unlimited amounts of certain vegetables
  • Does not allow wine (or other alcohol)

Wave 2

Main part of the diet; the plan that you will follow until you reach your target weight

  • Increases calorie allowance
  • Adds fruits back into the diet
  • Allows unlimited amounts of certain vegetables (Some types of vegetables need to be limited due to their high sugar or starch content. Potatoes need to be avoided.)
  • A daily glass of wine is encouraged

Wave 3

The maintenance phase; begins when you have reached your target weight

  • Allows for occasional indulgences (eg, juice, dessert, potatoes, and dark chocolate)

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

Unique to this diet is the special plate component, which helps with portion control during waves one and two. For breakfast, you may fill up either a 7-inch plate or a 2-cup bowl. For lunch and dinner, you may use a 9-inch plate.

There is also the option to enroll in the Sonoma online weight loss program. For a fee, you can get access to features such as customized meal planning, a weight tracking tool, and support from registered dietitians.

What the Research Says

While no research has been done specifically on this diet, overall it is based on well-established science and the book itself references numerous studies. The only part of this diet that lacks supporting evidence is the notion that certain healthful foods, such as fruits and starchy vegetables, need to be avoided.


Until you become familiar with the Sonoma way of eating, you will have to measure out certain foods to get the right portion size and refer to food lists to find what you can eat. You should also plan to spend a fair amount of time planning and cooking your meals.

Additionally, while this diet encourages exercise, its focus is on food and eating. You will have to look elsewhere for information on exercise, an important component of any weight loss program.

Bottom Line

Overall this diet is healthful and effective. Its focus on eating wholesome, nutrient-rich foods and the pleasure of savoring small amounts of good food makes for a positive approach to dieting. If you enjoy cooking and appreciate the option to savor a glass of wine with your dinner, this diet may be right for you.