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Sonoma Diet

By Editorial Team (A)
May 24, 2022


Most experts agree that people living on the Mediterranean coast tend to live longer and have a lower incidence of heart diseases and cancer than most Americans. Of course, their diet plays an essential role in these statistics.

The Sonoma Diet is a low-calorie eating plan inspired by the Mediterranean diet that promotes weight loss and overall health improvement. It focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, and nuts. In addition, this diet includes portion control.

The Sonoma Diet can help with weight management in the long term. In addition, since it is based on the Meditteranean diet, this nutritional approach can provide health benefits like: 

  • heart health improvement
  • lower blood sugar levels
  • decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes

Key points

The Sonoma Diet consists of three waves going from the most to the least restrictive phase. This nutritional approach focuses on the list of ten “power foods,” including:

  • grapes
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • bell pepper
  • olive oil
  • almonds
  • whole grains

Following the Sonoma Diet, it is advisable to eat three meals per day, skipping the snack unless you feel hungry between meals. In addition, this nutritional approach focuses on portion control, though you don’t need to count calories. Portion control is achieved by using a 2-cups bowl or a 7-inch plate for breakfast and a 9-inch plate for lunch and dinner. Furthermore, a plate or bowl is then sectioned to be filled with specific food groups.

As was mentioned, the Sonoma Diet consists of three waves. General guidelines for each phase are described below.

Wave 1 

It is the most restrictive phase that lasts ten days. During this period, you exclude the following foods:

  • refined grains, including white flour, white bread, refined pasta, and cereal with refined grains;
  • added sugar, including table sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave, sweetened yogurts, sweets, desserts, jam, sodas and other sweetened beverages;
  • dairy, including full-fat cheeses, butter, and yogurts;
  • fats, including butter, margarine, lard, most cooking oils (except extra virgin olive oil, nut oils, and canola oil), creamy salad dressings, and mayonnaise;
  • some fruits and vegetables, including peaches, bananas, mangoes, pomegranates, potatoes, beets, winter squash, carrots, corn, peas, and artichoke;
  • artificially sweetened foods
  • alcohol

Notably, the Sonoma Diet does not exclude whole food groups, only certain items from them. Therefore, you still can eat foods from the listed groups. For example, you can eat Parmesan cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, and skim milk from the dairy. Similarly, you can eat some vegetable oils, peanut butter, avocados, almonds, and walnuts from fats.

Wave 2

This wave lasts longer than the first one. You are encouraged to stay in this phase until you reach a goal weight. Now you can eat all the foods from wave 1 with some prohibited earlier foods reintroduced. The last include:

  • all vegetables except potatoes
  • all fruits (but not fruit juices)
  • fat-free yogurts
  • dark chocolate and sugar-free desserts
  • up to 6 ounces (180 ml) of red or white wine per day

Notably, fruits and vegetables high in carbs are limited to one serving per day.

In addition to nutritional changes, Wave 2 promotes regular exercises and mindful eating practices.

Wave 3 

This wave is a maintenance phase that allows for more flexibility in the diet. In addition to foods from the previous phase, you can eat small amounts of certain foods higher in fats and carbs, including refined grains, white potatoes, desserts, fruit juices, and full-fat dairy products.


It is advisable to talk with your healthcare provider about daily nutritional requirements. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take extra precautions. They are also not allowed to drink alcohol. In addition, active people may find this diet inappropriate due to its caloric limitations.

How to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies

Those who follow the Sonoma Diet may experience deficiencies in some vitamins and minerals since the diet limits fruits and vegetables and is low in calories. Therefore, it is advisable to talk with your healthcare provider to discuss specific supplements you may need to fulfill your body’s requirements.

Tips on improving your dieting experience

As was mentioned above, wave 2 of the Sonoma Diet encourages you to practice mindful eating. Let’s talk about what it is and how it works.

Mindful eating uses the mindfulness concept to help you focus on your experiences, feelings, and physical signals while eating. Here are six simple steps that will bring you closer to mindful eating:

  • eat slowly and eliminate distractions while eating
  • be attentive to the signals of your body (for example, physical cues of hunger or fullness)
  • eat foods that make you feel good and healthy instead of eating emotionally comforting foods
  • distinguish physical hunger and emotional triggers for eating
  • give yourself time to sense the smell, sound, color, texture, and flavors while eating
  • notice how different foods make you feel
  • enjoy and appreciate each meal
  • learn how to deal with food anxiety and guilt

Implementing these simple recommendations into your everyday life will help you develop an awareness of the eating experience and build healthy relationships with food.


Based on the Mediterranean eating patterns, the Sonoma Diet promotes eating whole foods, controlling portion size, being active, and practicing mindful eating. As a result, it aids in weight loss and may beneficially impact heart health and blood glucose levels.

However, due to its restrictiveness, especially during the first wave, the Sonoma Diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies. In addition, this diet is low in calories and, therefore, may not be suitable for many people.

If your goal is to become healthy and improve your relationships with food, you can try the Mediterranean diet.

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