The Sonoma Diet: A nutrition plan to change your lifestyle

Created by PhD Connie Guttersen as a variation of the Mediterranean Diet, the Sonoma Diet aims to teach its followers how to enjoy life’s culinary pleasures while achieving the ideal weight. Unlike highly restrictive diets, which cannot be followed long-term, the Sonoma Diet was created to gradually introduce a healthier, achievable lifestyle for anyone who wants to go down this road.

The complete Sonoma diet plan


Sonoma diet consists of three stages: the first stage (10 days) is the most restrictive one and allows eating only a limited number of foods in small portions. The second phase introduces a greater variety of foods, and the weight-loss rate decreases accordingly. The third and final phase (maintenance stage) permits even more foods and larger portions, including the occasional dessert while keeping the healthy eating principles adopted in the first two phases.

This diet is neither low-carbohydrate nor low-fat and emphasizes consuming fruits, vegetables, light proteins (fish, nuts, seeds), and complex carbs like those found in whole cereals. Guttersen points out 10 essential foods through their extraordinary health benefits: almonds, bell peppers, whole cereals, tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, grapes, spinach, broccoli, strawberries, and blueberries.

The Sonoma diet’s secret is promoting healthy foods combined with tasty recipes. Consumption of saturated fats, sugary foods, and white flowers is to be avoided, especially during the diet’s first phase.

Other than that, restrictions are resumed on the size of the portions. For breakfast, Connie Guttersen recommends using a 7-inch plate (18 cm), and for lunch & dinner, a 9-inch (23 cm) plate.

Phase 1

The first phase lasts 10 days and focuses on rapid weight loss and body cleansing. That is why, in this phase, it is strictly forbidden to consume processed foods, sugars (including from fruits and alcoholic beverages) and fatty foods. Also, this stage includes spices and herbal teas that assist the detoxification process.

Among the allowed foods and beverages are:

– Light proteins are found in eggs, seafood, skinless chicken, lean beef and pork meat, cottage cheese, mozzarella and soy-based products.
– Low-carbohydrate vegetables such as wheat germs, spinach, lettuce, turnip, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms, alfalfa, cucumbers…etc.
– ½ cup of legumes (peas, beans, lentils, soybeans..etc.) every day.
– Small quantities of walnuts, peanuts, almonds and olive oil.
– Water.
– Green, black, and herbal teas.
– Black coffee, unsweetened or sweetened with a sugar substitute.

Breakfast can be either light proteins and whole grains (portions are measured using the 7-inch plate) or milk and whole grains (in a bowl that can hold no more than 2 cups of water). Lunch and dinner portions are measured with the 9-inch plate. Lunch should be 50-60% vegetables and the rest protein. Dinner should consist of 50% vegetables, 30% protein and 20% grains.

Phase 2

The second phase adds a wider variety of foods to the diet, including fruits, more vegetables, and the occasional glass of wine accompanying a meal. This less restrictive stage promotes steadier long-term weight loss and lasts until the ideal weight is reached.

During the second phase, additional vegetables are allowed, such as beets, celery, carrots, and pumpkin, but potatoes are still on the forbidden list. More types of light protein are introduced, such as low-fat yogurt (1 serving/day) and one teaspoon of peanut butter every day at one of the meals or as a snack. Also, two small fruits (one at each meal) can be eaten daily.

You’ll still be using the 9-inch plates at lunch and dinner, except that during this phase, these two meals should consist of 25% of each vegetable, protein, grain, and fruits.

Female athlete at finish line

Phase 3

The third phase, also known as the maintenance stage, begins as soon as you’ve lost all the extra weight. This phase is in fact a healthy lifestyle and should ideally last forever. By now, dieters should be accustomed to controlling the quality and size of their meals, so more food is gradually added until weight loss stops.

Also, occasional indulgences are permitted, as long as they remain occasional and you follow the healthy eating guidelines the rest of the time.


The Sonoma Diet gives you a list of allowed foods, two plates and a bowl to measure your portions, and a lot of flexibility when choosing how to combine your foods into delicious recipes. The first phase might seem slightly restrictive, but it’s short-term and necessary for effective weight loss. If you’re interested in following the Sonoma diet, here you can see the complete list of allowed/forbidden foods.

Also, before starting a diet, we recommend consulting your doctor, especially if you have a medical condition.

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