How to Do Wave One of the Sonoma Diet

Pan of fried egg, with cherry-tomatoes and parsley

The Sonoma Diet, created by registered dietitian Connie Gutterson, is a weight loss diet based on portion control and eating only those foods from an approved list. It is similar to​ the Mediterranean Diet in that it restricts the type of foods you can eat. But, unlike the Mediterranean Diet, it is framed around 10 "power" foods, namely whole grains, almonds, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, grapes, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and olive oil.

The Sonoma Diet is also structured in three phases, called Waves. Wave One lasts for 10 days and is the most restrictive phase. It is then followed by Wave Two, in which a person aims to reach his or her ideal weight, and Wave Three which focuses on maintaining that weight.

Goals of Wave One

During the 10 days of Wave One, a person is placed on a highly restrictive diet. Foods allowed during Wave One include meat, eggs, nuts, low-fat cottage cheese, low-carb vegetables, whole grains, and unlimited herbs and spices. Portion sizes are relatively small. This phase is designed to destroy bad habits and achieve the following goals:

  • Promote fast weight loss by limiting carbs and calories
  • Wean you off sugar and reduce carb cravings
  • Teach you portion control
  • Get you accustomed to the foundational food around which you will prepare all meal

What You Can and Cannot Eat

As with all low-carb diets, added sugars and most sources of starch are to be avoided. Saturated fats are kept to a bare minimum. No fruit, alcohol, or anything sweet is allowed during Wave One. While small amounts of sweetener or diet soda may be consumed if you are having an especially rough time, they are generally discouraged and considered contrary to the goals of the early phase.

By contrast, the foods approved for Wave One include:

  • Lean proteins including eggs, seafood, poultry (without skin), soy products, and lean cuts of beef or pork
  • Certain low-fat dairy products
  • One daily serving of beans
  • Low-starch vegetables
  • A small serving of nuts (which you would need to count)
  • Certain fats such as nut oils or olive oil
  • Some low-carb condiments.

How Much You Can Eat

With the Sonoma Diet, you do not have to count calories, carbs, or fat grams because of the types of foods you eat. Instead, dietary controls are allocated according to plate size. To ensure consistent portion control, the diet requires that you have the following:

  • A bowl which holds two cups of liquid
  • A seven-inch plate
  • A nine-inch plate

The plates and bowls must be measured to meet the exact requirements. According to Gutterson, a small difference in diameter can make a big difference in the amount of food you consume. Once you have the appropriate dishes on hand, Wave One meals are dished out as follows:

  • Breakfast is either a serving of protein and grains on the seven-inch plate (some vegetable is allowed) or a whole-grain cereal and milk in the bowl.
  • Lunch is served on the nine-inch plate with a little more than half vegetable and the remainder made up of protein.
  • Dinner is also on the nine-inch plate and consists of 50 percent vegetables, 30 percent protein, and 20 percent grains.

Although carbs are not specifically counted, Gutterson states that Wave One menus have approximately 40 grams of usable (net) carbohydrate. This is consistent with the beginning phase of many low-carb diets and would be considered ketogenic for most people (meaning they are burning more fats than carbs).

While helpful for many, the Sonoma Diet may be problematic for some due to its strict caloric restriction.

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