Group lends support to gluten intolerant

PORT GAMBLE — The words “gluten free” were foreign to most Americans 30 years ago. Today they are becoming ubiquitous in restaurants, bakeries, and even cosmetics labels.

It’s good news for Kingston resident Nancy Tietje, who is among the roughly 1 percent of Americans with celiac disease. The disorder causes her body to react adversely to gluten, a wheat protein found in many processed foods.

Better education among restaurateurs and food makers means Tietje doesn’t have to search as hard to find gluten free foods.

“The awareness is growing throughout the country and the world,” Tietje said. “The world is becoming a much friendlier place.

Another sign of growing awareness will come Dec. 4, when the Peninsula branch of the Gluten Intolerance Group meets in North Kitsap for the first time.

The support and education group will meet from 2-4 p.m. in Mike’s 4-Star BBQ in Port Gamble.

The national group was founded in Seattle and now offers support for people with celiac disease and gluten allergies. It advocates for research into gluten and education for patients and health care providers.

Tietje, who recently became director of the Peninsula GIG, said GIG is a gateway to resources for people who are diagnosed as gluten intolerant. People with gluten intolerance must navigate a dizzying amount of information about their disorder and safe foods.

“It you find out you’re gluten intolerant in any form, your going to have a huge change in your life,” Tietje said.

That was true for Peninsula GIG member Carol McClaren who was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance in the 1970s.

Back then, few were familiar with gluten disorders and still fewer foodmakers were creating gluten-free products. McClaren said her diet was minimal before she joined GIG.

“I lived off rice cakes and peanut butter,” the longtime GIG member said. “GIG was just a godsend to me, because there was just nothing out there.”

GIG meeting

Gluten Intolerance Group will hold its first North Kitsap meeting from 2-4 p.m. Dec. 4 in Mike’s 4-Star BBQ in Port Gamble. Guest speaker will be GIG Executive Director Cynthia Kupper. Gluten-free meals will be available in a no-host lunch. See or call (360) 297-4227 for a menu and directions. The event is open to the public.

For information on GIG, see A registry of gluten free food providers is online at

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