Clean Up Weekend Strategy


So, it’s your first weekend on the Clean Up. You’ve got a girls’ night, a charity ball, and a family birthday party (with cake as the main event), not to mention Saturday lox and bagels at the corner bagel shop. 

What’s a virtuous Clean Up participant to do? Read this redo of a post from our 2011 Clean Up, and then get to planning.

What do you see in your future this weekend? Two to three days of sticking to the “rules”or one of falling off the wagon into a vat of sugar, unhealthy fats and alcohol. 

Some of you might take the willpower approach. It’s only 8 weekends you think. Surely I can muscle through and avoid the usual weekend indulges for this brief period. Of course, that approach misses the whole purpose of the Clean Up – eating healthy, clean food and establishing as many new lifetime habits as we can.

Others may start off with good intentions but succumb to temptation or peer pressure and have a glass of wine, a martini or a chocolate chip cookie.

My strategy is “The Sub Plan” (No, not that kind of sub). I can forgo the usual weekend indulgences (my Friday night cocktail, the Friday night take out and Sunday brunch) as long as I have something that feels special and serves as a clean substitution.

Here are some Sub Plan strategies I’ve used in the past: 


  • Instead of Friday night take out I have baked sweet potato fries or baked parsnip fries and 
a turkey burger (you could do a lean beef burger or a grass-fed beef burger instead). Sprinkle the fries with salt and pepper. Also sprinkle some Thyme, Rosemary, Garam Masala or Chinese 5 Spice before baking – delicious. Oh, and make sure to use fresh cut sweet potatoes. The frozen ones have added ingredients like sugars and corn starch.
  • A cranberry spritzer (sparkling water with a splash of 100% cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime) instead of a Cosmo* 
-Half of a Lara Bar or Clif Kit’s Organic Bar instead of cookies
  • Dessert: Ants on a beach (my take on Ants on a Log because celery is just nasty). 1 1/2 tbsp almond or sunflower seed butter with a 1/4 cup of raisins on top.
  • Sweet potato hash topped with a poached egg (optional) for Saturday morning breakfast 
-Smoked salmon omelet for Sunday brunch (you could add a slice of Ezekiel bread to this)
  • Roasted sweet potatoes or sweet potato home fries instead of white potato home fries
  • Spaghetti squash marinara with or without ground beef or turkey

Now I know that a cranberry spritzer is not the same as a Cosmo and spaghetti squash isn’t spaghetti, but both are good for those moments when you need to break up the weekday routine and do something special on the weekend.

What about restaurant dining? Is it possible to go to a restaurant and eat clean? Of course! It takes (gasp) planning and being a special orderer. Most menus are posted online, therefore you can peruse the menu and go in with your game plan.

Occasions with family and friends can be a little tougher. There’s no menu to peruse and there’s a ton of scrutiny when you aren’t partaking in what everyone else is. All I can say is, do your best. We’re all adults, and should be able to resist peer pressure from friends and family. Choose the clean eats that are available to you, and if you know there’s not going to be anything clean, eat before you go.

One more strategy – Mindfulness. Before you start the weekend, review your mindfulness worksheets. Remind yourself why you’re doing the Clean Up (maybe it’s to feel better or to be a good example for your kids or increase the chance that you’ll be around for your partner or to fit into those skinny jeans by March).

Think of your triggers, and also decide how you’re going to deal with criticism and scrutiny from your family. The more emphatic you are, the more likely people are to leave you alone. Being wishy washy is just an opening for your “well-meaning” friends and family members.

And what if you eff it all up? Might as well wait until Monday to get back on track, right? No! One “dirty” meal, or a weekend full of them, is no reason to abandon clean eating until the next weekday. Each new meal is an opportunity to start off, well, fresh and Clean. If you eat 
dirty at one meal, own it, get over it and get back on track at the next meal.

So, how do you plan to deal with the weekend? Post your strategy to comments or to our Facebook group.

Not doing the Clean Up yet? Abandoned your new year’s resolutions even though it’s only January 10th? I’m starting a second Clean Up group on January 20th. Go to to see how the program works and sign up! You could get a Better Body and a Better Life!