Posted on 16 May 16:37

National Celiac Awareness Month: An Interview with Chris Mirick from the National Celiac Association

Liteful Foods Blog: National Celiac Awareness Month - An Interview with Chris Mirick

National Celiac Awareness Month: An Interview with Chris Mirick from the National Celiac Association

One thing Liteful Foods takes great pride in is our commitment to creating delicious gluten-free food that our celiac friends and family can enjoy. This has been the goal of our little bakery since the day we baked our very first cake. So as you may or may not know, the month of May is National Celiac Awareness Month in the United States. These month long efforts helps raise awareness about the disease and sheds light on those affected.

In an effort to help spread some information on celiac disease we decided to reach out to our good friend Chris Mirick from the National Celiac Association (NCA). Chris is friend of the Liteful team and was diagnosed with celiac disease about 15 years ago. At that time he was starting a demanding new job that required lots of business travel. He had been feeling bad for several years and did not know why until his diagnosis. He would not have been able to succeed in his new job had he not been diagnosed and stopped eating gluten. A Bostonian who sits on the National Celiac Association's board of directors, Chris was happy to answer a few questions on the topic. 

What is the National Celiac Association and what is the association’s primary mission?

The National Celiac Association (NCA) is focused on education, advocacy and empowerment for the gluten-free community. Since 1993, NCA has been helping people live life everyday with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. Through its active executive and advisory boards as well as passionate staff, NCA provides the resources necessary to not only manage a gluten-free diet but to thrive and grow as healthy individuals, no matter what age. Among its resources, NCA offers a telephone helpline five days a week and runs unique programs such as the GFFB-Gluten-Free Food Bank and ROCK-Raising Our Celiac Kids. And through contributions to federal labeling law and advocacy, as well as research, NCA provides a national voice with a reach of almost 10,000 individuals and a growing network of over 45 support groups across 26 states. NCA’s medical advisory board includes prominent clinicians such as Dr. Alessio Fasano, Dr. Daniel Leffler, Dr Ciarán P. Kelly and Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN. For more information, visit:

Could you tell us how you got involved with the National Celiac Association?

When I was diagnosed, my primary care physician suggested that I consult a nutritionist, and I found my way to Melinda Dennis, who told me about NCA (then known as The Healthy Villi). The organization’s quarterly meetings were an eye-opener, as I met other people with celiac disease, and heard speakers talk on topics ranging from how to navigate a restaurant menu to cutting-edge research. Also, at that point there were not nearly as many options in grocery stores for gluten-free food, and the meetings featured vendors of gluten-free products – it was our opportunity to stock-up on gluten-free flour, bread, pasta, all the things that the stores didn’t carry.

My wife, Catherine, got involved with the NCA’s board pretty quickly. She’s not a celiac, but she saw an opportunity to help the organization and give back as a way of saying thank you for all the assistance we received. I didn’t have an official role at that point, but helped out as a volunteer at conferences and other events. Catherine stepped down after many years on the board, and a few years after that I got formally involved. I’ve now been on the board for about two years, and have enjoyed helping NCA as we expand our reach, in terms of both geography and activity.

When were you first diagnosed with celiac disease?

I got the official diagnosis in 2003. Like many celiacs, I had struggled with years of mis-diagnosis. I was a generally healthy, active person, but was frequently ill with stomach bugs—or so I thought. Once I got to a doctor who was familiar with celiac disease, the diagnosis happened pretty quickly. After three months on a gluten-free diet I started to feel better; after six months I felt great; and after a year I was amazed at what being healthy actually felt like!

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for those who may have been recently diagnosed with celiac disease?

In terms of medical conditions, celiac disease isn’t so bad. You can manage the condition without surgery or drugs – just healthy eating. Learning about gluten and how to avoid it, watching out for the “hidden gluten” in products, and educating family and friends about the condition all takes work, but it is within your ability to do this. And you don’t have to do it alone. Organizations like NCA are out there to support you. Find a community of other people who are facing this disease, and get the support and information you need. The diagnosis can be daunting, but after a few months of strictly avoiding gluten you will feel better. You can do this!

Chris, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!

If you would like further information on celiac disease check out the National Celiac Association's official website.

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