For a woman who’s lived with pain for most of her life, Diane Kittle has a strikingly positive attitude. After decades of enduring mysterious aches and illnesses, inconclusive medical tests and multiple surgeries, Kittle, 50, discovered last year that she has a hypersensitivity to gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. For Kittle, the finding inspired a lifestyle change and renewed health–and it launched a second career. The former medical equipment-leasing representative has turned entrepreneur; she’s opening a gluten-free bakery in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

Sick All the Time

Kittle grew up in Wesbrook, Maine, with two older sisters and a younger brother. The family was active and loved the outdoors. If they weren’t swimming in the river, lake or ocean, they were riding bikes, playing hide-and-seek or baseball or putting at the local miniature golf course. In the winter, they spent time building snow forts, sledding and skiing.

Kittle recalls that in those years she had more bouts of tonsillitis and ear infections than most kids. “My mother says my ear pain was so great when I was a baby that I would stop eating. The doctor told her to let me play with my food with my hands and eventually I would eat, which I did,” Kittle says. “But back then, no one made a connection. Frequent ear infections and tonsillitis weren’t immediately related to food allergies. And those illnesses didn’t define me.”

Click here to read more about Diane Kittle’s quest to overcome celiac disease.
Click here to read the related sidebar about Chicago news anchor Joel Daly’s parallel journey.