Home ยป healing journey ยป A (Very!) Personal Update

A (Very!) Personal Update

Paola with her dog Dedal in an electric scooter

My Dear Peeps!

I always start writing my recipe posts for gnom-gnom by choosing my favorite picture from the shoot… you know, the one that gets my mouth (and hopefully yours!) totally watering.

But this post is a little different, so I ended up settling for a moment that truly represents where I’m at: healing but incredibly gratefulย to have the opportunity to be getting back on my feet (after a year spent mostly in bed due to a sciatic nerve injury). Note that this was also from my second outing with Dedal a few weeks back… and we were both beyond ecstatic lol!

And I also know I never properly introduced myself to you guys, and itโ€™s long overdue! You see, I started gnom-gnom while healing from an autoimmune episode two years ago (i.e. I was cooking all day while โ€˜on a break from lifeโ€™). Looking back I know I felt the need to go through it in private, making me a bit internet shy while on my healing journey.

So here it goes! My name is Paola van der Hulst and I’m a Dutch Mexican gal based out of Mexico City, but currently found in Los Angeles receiving (alternative!) medical treatment for my sciatic nerve injury.

I’ve lived a bit all over though, which has had such a profound impact on my cooking I’m sure! I grew up in Mexico City but finished high school in Connecticut, studied economics at the University of St Andrews in Scotland (where I simultaneously taught myself how to bake from cookbooks lol!), worked in finance in London for three years, went back to Mexico City where I designed fine jewelry… and somewhere along the line (fueled by stress, Iโ€™m sure!), I began to show early signs of neuropathy and autoimmune disease.

Keto was by no means an overnight miracle, but with time it worked the charm. I had been gluten free for years already and paleo for a bit, but reducing my sugar intake substantially really did the trick. And after a couple years, I could really feel my body healing.

As part of my treatment where routine vitamin B12 injections, until one of them went wrong in June last year. A young doctor placed it too close to my sciatic nerve, causing damage to the outer structure (i.e. the myelin sheath)ย and impairing my movement completely.

Would I ever gain back full mobility? Doctors simply didn’t know (which was honestly devastating emotionally). Nerves are notorious for ‘misfiring signals’ and causing chronic life-long pain, after all.

And so I spent roughly six months in bed face-down (working on my patience… and discovering podcasts lol!), and for the past 8 months I’ve been working on sitting for longer and finally getting back to walking. Like any journey it has been anything from a straight line, but I am getting better (triple hurray guys!).

Side note! This is why I’ve been a little MIA from gnom-gnom this year (it’s been an emotional rollercoaster honestly!). And I’m fairly certain I’m only writing a post about it now, as in a way you guys provided some sort of ‘normal’ to my life. I could escape and chat about food to y’all, and not have to think of my pain 24/7.

Anyways! What else can I say other than how humbled I am to have the opportunity to get back on my feet once again. Lets just say I’m cherishing every-single-step-I-take! And worry not, new recipes are (finally!) coming next week!

So allow me to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for helping me build gnom-gnom into such a wonderful community of health-conscious foodies!

I would’ve never (ever!) imagined that my crazy kitchen experiments would be enjoyed by so many of you… and I literally have to pinch myself that something as beautiful as this community was born from the biggest challenges in my life.

Is life funny (and ironic) or what?! So if I’ve learned anything from this journey, it’s that we just have to do the best out of every situation… living in the present with immense gratitude about the simple fact that we are alive today.

Big kiss my friends (and thank you always for all the foodie loveย you send my way!)



  1. Sandra Price says:

    Wow Paola,

    That’s quite a challenge! Your site is terrific, keep up the great recipes. Myself, in last 2 years have gone through broken wrist, a session of sciatic pain in 1 leg, a broken hip and have psoriasis along with all that. It appears I have now developed psoriatic arthritis, but, take it one day at a time and smile often. Since psoriasis has raise it’s nasty head, I have tried different diets. Alkaline, No Fat No Carbs, Vegan and now onto Keto/Low Carb. This will hopefully slow down the psoriasis. If not, such is life, give it my best shot.

    You take care and get the rest you need !

  2. Kevy Nathalie says:

    Hola Paola, gracias por compartir esta historia tan intima de dolor y recuperacion! Soy venezolana pero vivo en la CDMX asi que soy venechilanga. Encontre tus recetas en Pinterest, cuando empece a tener antojos de postres deliciosos, tope con tus recetas en varias ocasiones, y TODAS las que he hecho me han salido deliciosas. Por eso ya siento que es garantia de delicia y bueno para la salud. Quiero decirte que has impactado mucho mi estilo de vida, de comer y de cocinar. Sigue lo que estas haciendo que vas muy bien. Me encanta leerte y ahora conocerte un poco mas. Te mando un abrazo grande y te deseo una recuperacion exitosa!!!

  3. Helen MacDonald says:

    I’m so glad you are on the mend. I truly love the recipes. I’ve been off keto for about 3 months and am having a hard time to get back at it. Gnom gnom has been the BEST go to for me. I love how the tips at the end really help me understand the recipe that much more. Keep doing what you are doing so well… I hope your days ahead will be filled with much joy and little pain.

  4. Kelsey says:

    Wow!! I feel like you have been working sending us recipes this whole time!
    Sorry to hear about your health, but glad you are improving.
    I grew up in Connecticut and have lived the second half of my life so far in Switzerland. Keto is pretty much unknown here ๐Ÿ™
    Thanks for all your great recipes! Looking forward to lots more as you continue to heal.

  5. Sandra McGrandle says:

    Paola, thank you for sharing so candidly here about yourself and your difficult journey through these health challenges. That’s wonderful to see that you are making progress and able to be out and about! Now knowing what you have been going through makes me even more impressed with your many talents and the unflagging positive attitude you have had in all your previous posts that I have read. You always exude enthusiasm, warmth, and charm, and your food photos are temptingly gorgeous. I love your recipes and have saved many (and tried a few so far). I look forward to seeing and reading more about you and your delectable creations. God bless you with continued healing!

  6. Cynthia says:

    WOW, who knew! How wonderful that you were able to manage the two simultaneously! True ROCKSTAR! I love your site and recipes! Thanks, you’ve been a godsend since I started by Keto journey! All the best on your continued recovery! ~ HUGZ!

  7. Nance says:

    Paola – You are such an inspiration! I’m so happy that you are healing and on the road to recovery. I knew you had health issues but I had no idea the scope. We are all fragile and have issues but you are set apart by making something stupendous out of it… gnom-gnom to be specific. I am new to Keto since April this year and you are by far my favorite recipe go-to gal. I wish you all the best and swift healing. Thank you for all that you do for us!

  8. Ella says:

    You are an amazing, inspiring and courageous woman. Sending you an abundance of love and healing vibes from Canada. Thanks for sharing your journey and keep putting one foot in front of the other and hopefully, with time, patience and dedication, it will get easier. Ella

  9. Sharon Driver says:

    Paola: Thank you so much for writing that introduction into your life and the challenges you’ve faced and are overcoming. Yes, the Bible teaches that tribulation works patience in us and by now you are getting close to sainthood-lol!

    We appreciate all the delicious recipes you’ve developed and shared and the knowledge you’ve passed on as well.
    Wishing you only well from here on out!!
    Warmest regards…..

  10. Stephanie says:

    Oh Paola, I had no idea! I don’t have any idea if this would help you or not, but I found the Egoscue Method last year after having two pinched nerves in my back that left me lying in bed unable to move even a quarter inch without pain. My back pain was not caused by injury, but it’s possible that Pete Egoscue’s method might help you. It’s noninvasive – so just very carefully constructed exercises. He developed the method while recovering from an injury from Vietnam.

    His book is called Pain Free, and the Egoscue therapist I used was Maryann Berry in San Diego – she does remote consultations by Skype. Best of luck to you in your recovery and keep us posted on your progress!

  11. San says:

    Wowie ~ your story gave me the chills with its kind nature. I hope you realize how many people you have, and are, helping. So gracious of you to share, so beautifully written, so happy you continue on your path to wholeness. Thank you, Paola…Iโ€™m getting those โ€œtears of joyโ€ for you. Wishing you & all you hold close the very best life has to offer.

  12. Lisa says:

    I have so much I would like to say after reading your story Paola, but I will sum it all up with this… WE LOVE YOU PAOLA!!! I am so incredibly grateful for the part you’ve played in my major life changes while going through your own. Bless you!!! ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿฅฐ

  13. Sam says:

    Amazing story! My husband was in this terrible accident 8 years ago, leaving him a quadriplegic, do I know a little about your journey. I am a cancer patient myself and love your recipes.

  14. Jelena says:

    Thank you for letting us in and sharing your pain and struggles… we are all here for you and are rooting you on! You have done so much for the community by perfecting then sharing mouthwatering recipes that bring us so much joy and good health.

  15. Andrea says:

    Wishing you every continued success on your healing journey! Never give up and remember that you are the best advocate for your own health! Thank you for the delightful recipes you share with us!

  16. Shelley O says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I, too, suffer from undiagnosed neuropathy and I would like to hear a little more about that, if possible. So glad you are feeling better. Your recipes inspire me to strive for better health. And to try to lose weight. I thank you and pray you will be fully healed soon.

  17. Patti Weyers says:

    My goodness!!! Good luck on your continued recovery!! And thank you for all you do for this community, your recipes are fantastic!!! What an interesting life you’ve had so far with your travels, very envious of your bravery to all places you’ve lived!!

  18. Elyn says:

    Oh wow. What a story! Thank you, bless you for sharing your story. It is inspirational. And humorous. And full of insight and joy, along with struggle and pain and all the rest of what happens in life. May your healing continue. May light and blessings shower upon you.

  19. Bonnie Nowicki says:

    Hi Paola! Thank you for sharing although I always thought you were the best part of my day and getting through this keto thing!! I am sorry but glad to hear your accomplishments and wishing you only upward from here. I am sure your dog is so proud of you:)! Take care . . .

  20. Robin says:

    Wow! Soldier on. Itโ€™s not easy as your identity of who you were is gone but always something great comes out of it! Thank you for all the great food recipes.

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      You nailed it Robin! Radical acceptance has been the greatest thing that has come form this journey ๐Ÿ˜‰ and its my absolute pleasure!

  21. Jeannette says:

    Hi Paola,
    Thank you for the trust you are showing in your followers by sharing such personal information. I wish you a full and speedy recovery! I LOVE your site, and have found many incredibly delicious recipes. Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your knowledge with us.

    Sending Love and Light for your continued healing.

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      You guys are such a wonderful community Jeannette, it felt right to share now ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve also learnt SO much about healing, that I only hope that what I’ve gone through will continue to serve many of you in time.

      Thank you for the love and light, its so well received! xo!

  22. Louise Bruno says:

    Hello Paola,

    I am a huge fan of yours and can’t thank you enough for helping me (and I’m sure so many others) with my Keto journey! Thank you for sharing your personal story and I’m sending you wishes for a speedy recovery. Know you are amazing and you have tons of support to keep doing what you love!

    Many blessings!

  23. Susan Lecerf says:

    Much love and heartfelt thanks for all youโ€™ve done for us healthy food lovers, and most of all continued positive steps toward reclaiming your health!

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      Thank you Susan!! I appreciate you guys so very much too, gnom-gnom wouldn’t be what it is without each and every single one of you cooking and baking! ๐Ÿ˜‰ big kiss girl!

      • Bev MacDougall says:

        Thank you for sharing your healing journey including all your fears. Sending healing thoughts and love your way, with that and your wonderful attitude I’m sure all will be fine xx

    • Sherry says:

      I am praying for your full recovery Paola๐Ÿ™โœ๏ธ๐Ÿ™โœก๏ธ๐Ÿ™ You have been such an inspiration to me along my keto journey, especially in my struggles with the Keto Farmer’s Bread๐Ÿ˜ I always recommend your site to other keto advocates, and just got done telling my husband about the scrumptious pancakes from the gnom-gnom site๐Ÿ˜‹I’m anxiously awaiting your return to full health. Please keep us informed of your progress.

  24. Linda (aka @ketoincucina) says:

    I sincerely hope you are on the road to a successful recovery. I love your recipes. And I think that you’re a brave woman with such a positive outlook. I look forward to seeing more your posts.

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      You know Linda… nothing like losing your ability to move to live in immense gratitude lol!

      No but seriously, in some weird way I’m incredibly grateful for everything that has happened- it has taught me soooo much about how in control we really are about our emotions and how we choose to live our lives. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Big kiss and can’t wait for you guys to see what’s coming next!!!

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      Thank you Jacky, its my absolute pleasure!! Makes me so happy to hear you guys enjoy my recipes so much! xo!

    • Donna Balzer says:

      Oh my! My husband has idopathic neuropathy, and I give him B12 in the arm, I am so glad to hear your on the mend! We have been on Keto for about a year, I am hopeful this diet will benefit us both, cutting out sugar and gluten. We feel so much better! Thank you for all you do and thank you fro sharing your healing journey!


  25. Stace says:

    I just have to say Paola that I’m so impressed of what you’ve created while healing, I had no idea and would’ve NEVER known! All the best and looking forward to what comes next!

  26. Linda Rouse says:

    Paola! It is as if food has healed you twice! Thank you for sharing your story and your recipes. I am a big fan. I can’t wait to eat what you make next and all my best wishes for your continued healing.

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