Eat a Mediterranean diet inspired by the California wine country lifestyle, and you'll recalibrate your body to want wholesome, unprocessed foods, says Guttersen, a nutrition consultant for the California branch of the Culinary Institute of America. In the first ten-day phase—or "wave"—you lose weight quickly by eliminating sugar and refined foods, focusing on vegetables, lean protein, good fats (olive oil, avocado) and whole grains. In the second wave you're allowed a wider variety of foods, a bite-size piece of dark chocolate up to three times a week, and (you guessed it) a daily glass of wine. In the third wave you learn how to maintain your weight loss. There's no calorie counting. Instead, you're advised to use specifically sized plates and bowls and instructed how to fill them with the right proportions from each food group.
"This is actually the way we've been telling people to eat for a long time. Just about everything the author advises—like eating whole grains instead of refined and watching your portion sizes—has been scientifically proven to improve your health and aid weight loss," says Barry Popkin, PhD, director of the Interdisciplinary Obesity Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In addition to stellar nutrition, the book emphasizes savoring one's food—practicing mindful eating, for example, which prevents overdoing it by making you more conscious of how much you take in.
Eating this way may or may not retrain your taste buds to prefer healthier foods. There's evidence to suggest that reducing salt and high-fat dairy eventually makes you desire less of both, but the research on sweets is weaker: "Even if there isn't specific science to support it, my clinical experience is that when people decrease their sugar intake, often they don't want it as much," says Hensrud.
The bad news is that the plan is pretty hard-core for the first 10 days. "Cutting out favorite foods sometimes sets people up for failure, because when they eventually allow themselves a treat—like a piece of birthday cake—they then feel so disappointed in themselves that they just give up completely," says Howard Eisenson, MD, director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. Nevertheless, if you can make it through the first "wave," chocolate and wine await you.
The bottom line
Anyone up for a major diet overhaul will find that this is a solid plan with health benefits to boot.