• Stuffing: 1/2 cup = 5 points.

• Gravy: 1/4 cup cream gravy = 4 points; one cup canned turkey gravy = 1 point.

• Roast turkey: 1 slice breast = 3 points (a slice should not exceed size of your palm).

• Mashed potatoes: 1/2 cup = 3 points, without gravy and extra butter.

• Candied sweet potatoes: 1/2 cup = 5 points.

• Green-bean casserole: 1 cup = 6 points.

• Cranberry sauce: 1/4 cup canned = 3 points.

• Pumpkin or apple pie: 1 slice of a 9-inch pie = 11 points.

• Pecan pie: 1 slice = 14 points.

Source: Weight Watchers

We're just eight days out from the biggest food holiday of the year. A day to be thankful for our blessings ... and test our willpower with bountiful food spreads.

How many times have I heard a Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers counselor say that overindulging on Thanksgiving sets up a dieting downfall? A person who grazes at the Thanksgiving buffet is more likely to rationalize, "Well, I've blown it now, so I might as well just enjoy the holidays, eat what I want, then start back on the plan after New Year's."

(That always made me squirm in my seat because I am so guilty!)

So here are five tips to help make it through the coming food challenge along with a cheat sheet of Weight Watchers' PointsPlus counts on Thanksgiving favorites.

Tear out the chart, and keep it handy so you can keep a running total in your head of what you are consuming next Thursday. Just knowing that number will help keep your impulses under control.

After all, the only "gobbler" should be the bird on the buffet.

1. Eat normally on Thanksgiving Day until the big meal. If you starve yourself, you are twice as likely to overeat at the Thanksgiving table.

2. Drink lots of water all day. Keep a bottle or glass handy while doing prep work on the meal. When you're well-hydrated, you feel fuller.

3. Let's talk turkey. The white meat (lean turkey breast) is your best choice. Dark meat has 30 percent to 40 percent more fat and 15 percent more calories.

4. Don't deprive yourself of your favorite side or dessert. Just serve it with a tablespoon. One tablespoon of that dish will give you a taste of your favorite and help eliminate cravings that lead to overindulgence.

5. Ask the hostess if you can help by bringing a dish. That way you're guaranteed at least one guilt-free food you know you'll like.

If you're partial to sweet potatoes, you might like this Weight Watchers-approved recipe.

Last-Minute Mashed Sweet Potatoes

4 large, uncooked sweet potatoes, washed and dried

1 can (151/4 ounces) crushed pineapple packed in juice, drained

Heat oven to 400 F. Place potatoes directly on middle rack of oven. Bake, checking for doneness by either gently squeezing potatoes or pricking them with a fork to see when they are really soft, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 minutes.

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise, and cool for 5 minutes more. Scrape potato flesh from skin into a large bowl. Add drained pineapple chunks, and mash with a potato masher or spoon until pineapple has broken down slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Makes eight 3/4-cup servings; 4 PointsPlus per serving.

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.