Gluten Free group going in the valley
Whether it’s a lifestyle choice or a medical necessity, Angela Wetzel wants to meet people who are going gluten free.
Wetzel founded the group Gluten Free Grand Valley for people like her who don’t eat gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains. Wetzel can’t eat gluten because she has an autoimmune condition called Celiac disease that does not allow her body to digest gluten properly. People who have a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease are welcome to the group’s monthly meetings, as are people who have chosen to eat gluten free for other reasons or people who are contemplating a change to a gluten free diet for themselves or their children.
“I’m not going to exclude someone who doesn’t eat it by choice,” Wetzel said.
The goal of the group is to help people not feel alone in living a gluten-free life.
“It’s just better to know you can sit across the table from someone and say, ‘This is what I’m going through,’ and they understand,” Wetzel said.
The group first met in November and plans to meet more or less on the first Wednesday evening of every month. Due to the New Year’s holiday one day before the first Wednesday of this month, January’s meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 in the Mesa Mall community meeting room. The location for the meetings will change each month, at least at first.
Wetzel said she hopes to have a speaker at January’s meeting and plans to invite gastroenterologists and other educational speakers to future meetings. So far, meetings have involved getting to know other participants. The kickoff meeting involved people bringing gluten-free cookies to exchange.
Ten people came to the group’s December meeting, but Wetzel is hoping to gather more participants. She knows there are more people living without gluten in the valley and she believes anyone can benefit from the group, even if they think they know everything there is to know about gluten intolerance.
“Even if you’ve been Celiac a long time, you still learn something every day,” she said.
The group has a Facebook page where recipes, advice, articles and information about each meeting time, date and location are posted. Those interested can search for Gluten Free Grand Valley among Facebook’s group pages.