One of Dr. Connie Guttersen's first jobs was counseling obese patients on medically supervised liquid milkshake diets.
It was the kind of job Guttersen, a nutritionist with a doctoral degree in obesity, loved and hated.
"It was gratifying to see their weight fall off," she says. "And frustrating, because then I watched so many of them gain it all back."
Indeed, one of the "patients" Guttersen worked with was her own father, a physician who ran the weight-loss program. While not obese, he often followed the liquid diet to shed excess pounds. "He would lose weight, gain weight and be so discouraged. So was I."
The experience influenced Guttersen's passion to teach the obese patients habits that could keep them healthy and trim for life.
Those skills are outlined in The Sonoma Diet (Meredith Books, 2006), Guttersen's recently published book.
In a recent interview she describes her eating regimen as "something that takes the healthful best of Mediterranean, Asian and California cuisine, and modifies it for weight loss."
A family move 13 years ago, to California's Sonoma wine region -- where Guttersen took a job developing the chefs' curriculum at the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone, St. Helena, Calif. -- inspired her to develop the eating plan. "Because of my work, I've always been committed to good nutrition. But it was in the wine country that I really learned about food."She describes Sonoma as a modified version of the Mediterranean diet, often extolled for its emphasis on heart-healthy olive oil, lean meats, fish and poultry, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
How do the two differ?"The Sonoma diet is a weight loss plan that includes healthy, delicious foods. The Mediterranean diet, while very healthy, is not structured to achieve weight loss. People can stay fit on it. But dieters need more guidelines."To that end, Guttersen has added restrictions and strategies to help dieters shed pounds faster.Toss your candy bars and diet sodas. Get ready to use smaller plates. Cook up some healthy, delicious meals using Guttersen's 10 favorite super foods: almonds, blueberries, strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, whole grains, broccoli, grapes, olive oil and bell peppers. And uncork the wine bottle.Here are some highlights of how Sonoma works: Meals, snacks and recipes are based on inclusion of 10 "power foods," preferred for their plentiful phytonutrients and documented health benefits. A typical day might include a breakfast of whole-grain cereal and milk; a lunch of black bean soup; halibut and vegetables for dinner; and string cheese, whole-grain bread and peanut butter or a small portion of almonds for snacks. Wine -- one 6-ounce glass a day-- is encouraged because wine's phytonutrient content is known to have healthful benefits. Nondrinkers can eat grapes instead. Smaller plates. Dutiful Sonoma dieters will switch to seven-inch plates for breakfast and lunch to help with portion control. The diet also spells out what portion of a plate should be reserved for specific categories of food. For example, two-thirds protein, one-third grains or 1/2 grains, 1/2 dairy at breakfast. Healthy fats -- olive oil, nuts, natural-nut butters -- are encouraged. (Some diets, based more on counting calories and fat grams, restrict these.) Exercise. Guttersen calls it "very important," and says simple walking or "playing outside with the kids," is the best bet for gym phobics. "I don't like to prescribe certain kinds of exercise. It is too scary to many people." Support. Dieters can join a paid, Web-based community at www.sonomadiet.com, where they can share tips and support. Next: What's restricted >
Source: Health & Wellness