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The Sonoma Diet: Promoting a Lifestyle

New diet plan emphasizes power foods that will have lasting effects on your waistline.

Beyond the Pretty Cover continued...

Pleasurable eating of nutrient-rich foods is at the heart of the Sonoma diet. At the same time, the diet steers clear of depriving people of essential carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

For example, whole grain breads and cereals -- which are shunned in parts of other weight loss -- are allowed on the Sonoma diet from day one. However, certain foods containing saturated fat, added sugar, and refined white flour are discouraged throughout the program.

Guttersen identifies the diet as neither a low-fat nor a low-carbohydrate diet. She calls it a "next-step" diet that has the right balance of nutrients to ensure health, weight loss, and satisfaction.

Zied sees the Sonoma diet as sensible in general. She likes the book's emphasis on food enjoyment, portion control, food label reading, and eliminating trans fats. However, she thinks it may be too idealistic for most people to follow long term.

What is trans fat? It is made during the processing of vegetable oil when it becomes hydrogenated. You can find trans fat in margarine and shortening and foods that use these fats in their preparation (such as packaged crackers, cookies, and fried foods).

"There's a high expectation [in The Sonoma Diet] that people are going to be cooking a lot," she says, referring to the recipes, which make up about half of the book. "I like to encourage people to cook, but the truth is that a lot of people don't have a lot of time."

To address concerns of time-strapped dieters and for those who eat out a lot, Guttersen recommends turning to the diet survival chapter of the book. She also says there are Sonoma Express recipes that are not only tasty, but also easy and quick to prepare.

3 Waves to Weight Loss

The Sonoma Diet is divided into three waves. Wave 1 of the diet is a 10-day period in which dieters are urged to throw out or give away foods in their pantries containing refined flours, non-whole grains, hydrogenated and saturated fats, sugars, and any oil that isn't extra-virgin olive oil, nut oil, or canola oil. Fruits are also prohibited in this wave in order to wean the body from sugar.

On Wave 1, dieters can eat certain vegetables, lean meats, seafood, limited dairy, some grains, three daily servings of olive or canola oil, a small amount of nuts, black coffee, tea, and an unlimited number of herbs and spices.

"The first wave is the most extreme, the most low-calorie," says Zied. She doesn't know how realistic it is for people to completely purge their cabinets of processed foods and sugars, especially if they have other people at home who are not on a diet. She takes issue with Guttersen's advice to provide family members with only healthful foods such as whole-wheat bread and peanut butter in order to break them of unhealthy eating.

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