Today is the first anniversary of my drastic diet change. My doctor says that it isn’t a diet, because a diet is a short term change. My doctor says that what I’m doing is a “lifestyle” change.

For a year now I’ve stuck to the “plant based lifestyle” that my doctor urged me to try. It isn’t a strictly vegetarian diet. I do eat baked poultry from time to time, but most of my food comes from plants instead of animals. I try to keep processed foods to a minimum. I cook most of my own meals and rarely eat at restaurants.

Here are the rules that my doctor laid down for me a year ago:

No red meat, no junk food, no sweets, no fast food, no fried food, no dairy products, and nothing to drink except water.

I don’t bother counting calories or carbs or proteins or anything like that, but I check the ingredients labels carefully on all food products that I buy.

When I cook something that calls for milk as an ingredient, I use almond milk or coconut milk because dairy products are on my verboten list. I use vegetarian products as substitutes for butter and cheese, and I use “egg replacer” powder whenever my baking requires an egg as a binding agent.

When I started this routine exactly 1 year ago today, I thought that drinking only water would be very difficult. I was wrong about that. Limiting my drinks to water only was the easiest part of this routine. For years I wasted a lot of money on unnecessary sodas and juices when I could have been drinking water. I wish I’d wised up earlier in my life, but better late than never.

I’ll admit that I experience cravings for some of my old favorite forbidden foods, like burgers and fries and pizza, but I never crave any liquids other than water.

The change has been good for me. I’ve dropped a lot of weight, dropped a lot of inches from my waistline, and I feel much better. The change has been good for my wallet too. The foods, drinks, and restaurants that I must forego tend to be substantially more expensive than the grains, nuts, fruits, etc. that I prepare at home.

I’m sticking with it. Today marks the beginning of my second year on this routine.