The Sonoma Diet

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on June 05, 2023
3 min read

A trimmer waist and better health in just 10 days, without depriving yourself. That’s the promise of the New Sonoma Diet, named for California’s wine country and influenced by a Mediterranean plant-focused way of eating.

The New Sonoma Diet is an update of the earlier Sonoma diet which emphasizes a healthy lifestyle in addition to food choices. The plan’s creator, Connie Guttersen, PhD, RD, says that besides losing weight, the plan will help you break your sugar addiction and teach you to satisfying cravings with healthy foods.

The emphasis is on a cornucopia of flavorful, nutrient-dense “power foods,” including almonds, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, grapes, olive oil, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and whole grains.

The diet is divided into three “waves.”

  1. The first wave lasts 10 days and is designed to promote quick weight loss. It’s the most dramatic phase of the diet, when you are encouraged to chuck all processed foods and some fatty foods like chips, butter, and bacon. Other banned foods in this wave include items that contain natural sugars, like wine, fruit, juice, and some vegetables. But the long list of allowed foods contains things like lean beef, eggs, asparagus, soba noodles, olive oil, walnuts, and spices.
  2. In the second wave, you eat the same foods as you did in Wave 1, except you can add some fruit, more veggies, sugar-free treats, and up to 6 ounces of wine daily. You stay with this phase until you reach your goal weight.
  3. Once you’ve reached your ideal weight, you can jump into the third wave of the program, which focuses on making the New Sonoma Diet a part of your lifestyle instead of a one-off diet fix. Guttersen encourages experimenting with different fruits, enjoying full-fat sweets as a rare treat, and having fun with fitness (while still limiting packaged foods and hydrogenated fats).

As a reference for how much of each food to eat, the diet utilizes portion management via plate size -- you eat off a 7-inch plate for breakfast and a 9-inch plate for lunch and dinner.

The diet starts off hard -- throwing away a bunch of food at one time can be a shock to the system. The second and third waves become easier, as the program turns from diet to lifestyle change.

Level of limitations: The last two waves are pretty well-balanced, but Wave 1 suggests a fairly restrictive menu low in calories.

Cooking and shopping: If you’re prepared to stock your pantry with sugar- and trans-fat-free foods, you’ll do well with shopping and cooking on this diet. The diet’s book contains recipe samples for each wave of the program.

Packaged foods or meals: No.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: There is no formal exercise component tied to the plan, but you are encouraged to incorporate some daily physical activity.

Vegetarian or vegan: If you love fruit, veggies, wine, and healthy food in general, you’ll do well on this diet. Meat-free protein sources like soy and eggs are allowed, as long as they are low in saturated fat and free of extra breading or carbs.

Low-fat diet: This is a great option if you are on a low-fat diet. During the first wave, hydrogenated fats are banned; and sugars and carbs are limited throughout all waves.

Gluten-free: While there are gluten free recipes included, this diet doesn’t cater to gluten sensitivities, but it can work because emphasis is placed on fruits and vegetables. Read the labels of your foods to ensure they are gluten-free.

Cost: Other than the cost of the book and your food, this diet is free.

Support: At an affiliated website by the diet's creator,, you can find recipes, success stories, and tips from Guttersen.