Like so many of you, I am starting off the new year vowing to make some improvements in my diet and exerise routine and hopefully shed a few pounds. So it was timely that I got a chance to review a new book called The New Sonoma Diet by Dr. Connie Guttersen. This is the updated version of a book that came out about 5 years ago.

I will have to say that any diet book that promotes having a glass of wine with dinner definitely gets my attention. (You can't have wine when you're in the first wave of the diet, but you do get to add it after the first 10 days.) I also appreciate the fact that the author of the book is a dietitian and a nutrition instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, so the nutrition information is current and accurate and the recipes look delicious.

Although the word "diet" is in the title of the book, Dr. Guttersen goes to great lengths to explain why this is not really a diet but more of a lifestyle approach to eating mindfully and joyfully. The emphasis is on eating the types of food that the Sonoma area is known for: fresh vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, lean meats, fish, fruits, herbs and spices, and, of course, wine. There are some great tips on controlling portion sizes by using smaller plates, dining out, and replacing highly-processed foods with more natural, seasonal foods without having to spend a fortune.

I am in total agreement with Connie Guttersen's philosophy that meals are meant to be enjoyed and food savored, as opposed to always thinking of food as the enemy. If we could all slow down a bit and really pay attention to what we are eating, I think we would eat less and enjoy more. Despite all the weight-loss gimmicks and formulas that are in the marketplace, the bottom line is that in order to lose weight, you have to use up more calories than you take in. This book offers a good way to do that, as well as a way to improve your overall health without feeling deprived. I can raise a glass to that!

If you have had success losing weight, I'd love to hear some of your tips and insights.