Yes, we all have at least one “junk food” item that we love. Yes, we all say we’re going to not eat sugar for a month or that we’re not going to go over 1,500 calories a day. But let’s face it: Everyone has a sweet tooth.

But satisfying such cravings does not have to be as bad as you’d think. Katherine O’Donnell, professional cake decorator and instructor, explains how home baking can reduce the negative impact of treats and even have benefits of its own. So drop the Hostess and make something of your own!

“With so many chemicals and preservatives and artificial flavors filling up the ingredient labels on prepackaged foods, it is always a better bet to make something yourself than to buy it prepackaged from a store,” says O’Donnell. High-fructose corn syrup, the preferred sweetener of most food companies, has been demonstrated to suppress the sensation of fullness that stops people from eating too much and it has been linked to rising obesity rates.

Not only does home baking eliminate the use of high-fructose corn syrup, it can also reduce refined sugar intake.

“With so many allergies and health problems in the world today, it is very simple and inexpensive to alter a recipe,” O’Donnell states. “Using fruits and vegetables to naturally flavor treats can be a very healthy alternative to refined sugar. Honey is also a great substitute for sugar because the ratio of honey to sugar is only _ cup honey to one cup sugar, and so you are adding less but with the same great tasting results.”

But sugary treats are not the only option for satisfying a sugary appetite. O’Donnell suggests an easy and healthy alternative for group gatherings.

“With the summer harvest upon us, there are so many fast and easy things to make for parties or small get-togethers,” she says. “One of my favorites is a fruit platter with yogurt dip. Everyone can bring their favorite fruit and very quickly you’ll have a plethora of them to share. You can use a simple vanilla yogurt to dip the fruit pieces into, or eat the fruit by itself.”

In addition to the food aspect of cooking and baking, there is another very real benefit.

“Making anything with someone can be a real bonding experience,” she notes. “The actual process of making it is where I have the most fun … If college students really want to bond with their roommates or friends, I would suggest cooking something together … It is a lot of fun and you can make some great memories.”

O’Donnell visits UVU every Thursday at noon to host cake decorating activities in The Zone. She also teaches classes in the community and is hoping to host some at UVU as well. More information can be found on her website,