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Health Experts

Savoring Sonoma

Connie Gutterson, RD, PhD, shares nutrition tips from California's wine country

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Drink a glass of wine after your soup, and you steal a ruble from your doctor.” So goes a Russian proverb, one with which Connie Gutterson RD, PhD, author of The New Sonoma Diet, would likely agree. Five years ago, the original Sonoma Diet was a New York Times best-seller, and it changed the way Americans felt about food, weight loss, and the benefits of enjoying wine in moderation.

Q: How is The New Sonoma Diet different from the original?

A: One of the exciting added features of The New Sonoma Diet is a greater emphasis on foods that trickle glucose into your blood stream slowly, thereby keeping your energy levels up and your hunger under control.

The whole-health approach to The New Sonoma Diet includes updates with the latest research on omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics,
dark chocolate, vitamin D, gluten-free recipes, and wine. And as a mother of two children, it was important to me to emphasize more time-saving recipes.

Q: How does wine enhance our health?

A: There’s been compelling evidence for some time now that drinking wine goes hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle and is a powerful means of preventing heart disease. A study of 20,000 women suggested that those who drank moderate amounts of wine, one or two glasses per day, had the lowest risk of becoming overweight or obese; their risk was 30 percent less than that of nondrinkers. And it’s not just the risk of heart disease that goes down with moderate wine consumption. Solid recent research is providing a clearer understanding of how wine may help prevent or relieve the effects of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and even osteoporosis.

Q: Why are carbohydrates and fats so important, and why does cutting them out of the diet backfire?

A: You need proper amounts of quality carbohydrates for energy, nutrients, and fiber. Dieters sense that intuitively, which is one reason there are so many low-carb dropouts. Whole grains are essential for weight loss. By eating whole grains instead of refined white flour, you are sharply reducing the top metabolic cause of weight gain (especially around the waistline).

The Sonoma Diet philosophy also emphasizes the right kind of dietary fat in the right amounts, such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and other plant oils. Very-low-fat diets will not work for most people. Researchers from Harvard found that people following a Mediterranean-style diet for weight loss were more successful than those following a low-fat diet.

Q: The New Sonoma Diet works in “waves.” Please explain.

A: The New Sonoma plan is divided into three distinct “waves.” Wave 1 lasts for the first 10 days. During this period you’ll be overcoming your habit of consuming large amounts of sugars, refined flour products, and other fast-absorbing foods that most likely led to your weight concerns in the first place.

After 10 days, you are in Wave 2, where you’ll stay until you reach your target weight. During this wave you’ll continue cultivating the Sonoma approach to eating, savoring each meal slowly with an emphasis on health and pleasure.

Wave 3 starts the day you reach your target weight. Since congratulations will be in order, your wine choice for the day might be a bit of the bubbly. Now it’s time to convert your new appreciation of healthy eating from a weight loss diet into a lifestyle. You won’t need percentage instructions, and you can enjoy unlimited fruits and vegetables. Your portion control and food choices will come naturally.