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Beyond the Pretty Cover

Clemens gives The Sonoma Diet two thumbs up for presentation and consumer friendliness.

"The author, Connie Guttersen, has an interesting and creative approach to encourage people to modify their behaviors in a fun manner," he says. He points out that she teaches people to eyeportion sizes on plates instead of counting calories, and stimulates them with positive language to endorse enjoyable eating.

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.

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