Two years ago I quit using artificial sweeteners. Not because of the Canadian rat studies, but because of may own adverse experiences. Here's what happened.

When a quarter-grain saccharin tablet didn't sweeten my coffee enough, I began using two. Next came the purchase of half-grain tablets.Two were used, then three. At that point I quit.

After a month of unsweetened coffee, I again tried a quarter-grain tablet. Curiosity led me to observe details. It now took only a few months to lose my tasting ability. The previous saccharin increases had occurred gradually over a period of years.

There are a number of ways to avoid saccharin, but no single, simple substitute. Choose fruit at breakfast instead of juice, and sweeten unsugared cereal with bananas, raisins or berries. Grated apple, skin on, adds volume and texture when mixed with dry cereal. Hot cereal can be topped with crushed pineapple in unsweetened juice. Flavor is added when cooking cereal, with a bit of cinnamon or almond extract or slivered orange rind.

Grated apple adds flavor to pancake batter. Syrup can be made by simmering unsweetened pineapple or orange juice until it thickens slightly.

Commercial diet jelly products are not the only choice when avoiding saccharin. This apple butter takes about five minutes to make. APPLE BUTTER (2 cups) 2 cups water-packed, dietetic applesauce 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine ingredients and heat quickly, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to boil. Pour into sterilized glass jars, cover and cool. Refrigerate. SPICED PEACHES (2 cups)

A tasty garnish can dress up a lunch or dinner meal, as well as add color. For variety, try pineapple rings, pear halves, or all three fruits in this quick recipe. 2 cups peach halves with unsweetened juice (dietetic) 1 tablespoon mixed pickling spices 1 teaspoon whole cloves 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Simmer fruit, juice and flavorings 5 minutes; drain immediately. Cool in covered container. Refrigerate.

Dinner dessert habits often need objective study. How often is dessert served? Why? Are desserts needed to provide ingredients for balancing the day's food intake: milk (pudding) or egg (custard) or fruit (cobbler)? Not usually. Breaking a daily sweet dessert habit simplifies surviving without saccharin.

Having company and holidays do provide good excuses for food habit changes. Desserts, even then, needn't be disastrous. Here's a technique featuring decreased portions. DESSERT TIDBITS (4 servings) 2 slices unfrosted pound, angel food, or fruitcake about 1/2-inch thick (if possible, purchase individual slices to avoid having tempting leftovers) 1 cup pineapple wedges, canned in unsweetened juice, well drained Colored toothpicks

Cut cake into 1-inch pieces. Pierce each with a colored toothpick and space around serving plate. Place pineapple wedges, each with toothpick, between cake squares. Plain to serve dissert tidbits away from the dinner table - perhaps with coffee in the living room.

Beverages present challenges when avoiding saccharin. It takes determination to switch to unsweetened coffee or tea. Between meals the ideal choice is plain water. Two quarts, daily, are recommended for adults.

For children, a between-meal drink can be made by diluting fruit juice (not fruit drink) with club soda. This has bubbles, like soft drinks, but provides vitamins and minerals, too.