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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 grateful 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 it’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 ‘on a break from life’). 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, I’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) 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 love you send my way!)

Paola

438 comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Oh thank you for sharing your story! Your fantastic foods have taken on a whole new meaning. This food-journey we’re all on is interesting, but not nearly so much as the story of us behind it all. Thank you for your creations and your honesty!

  2. Carol says:

    Paola: I am a first time commentor, Keto beginner, and already gnom-gnom regular follower. Thank you for sharing your journey! I can see the amount of time and dedication you put into your recipes and your website. The details of your work is astounding! Your recipes and your story have inspired me to continue on this food journey! I hope you continue to heal and live your passion!

  3. Rita Radford says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I thought you were superwoman before….now I think you are the ultimate superwoman! You are an inspiration, your positivity is incredible! Keep doing what your doing, we all love and support you and your amazing recipes and wish you a full, fast recovery. Thank you for helping us easily adapt to this WOE with your dedication to us ❤️

  4. Tini says:

    Tus recetas son una fiebre de inspiración y distintas a todas las que vi en internet. Admiración pura 🙌🙌🙌 desde Argentina

  5. Sandra Chiavaroli says:

    Paola, you are indeed a inspiration to many of us with your recipes and now this story about your struggles and your journey to healing.
    I found this site within the last year and have asked you a few questions about the recipes. To think you took the time to respond while in bed and in extreme pain is altruistic. You are a saint!
    I look forward to more recipes and hearing updates about your journey. God Bless.
    Sandra

  6. Cat G says:

    What a remarkable, strong, enlightened woman you are! So blessed to be on this journey with you. My sister (who has lost over 100# on Keto) and I (controlling insulin resistance) use your site as our first resource for fabulous recipes.
    With love and Wishes for your full recovery 💕

  7. Paula Herrera says:

    Prayers to you! I admire your strength and perseverance! Thank you for sharing your struggles but more importantly, thank you for sharing your recipes! May you continue to heal!

  8. Debra says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a challenging journey for sure. I am yesterday, six months recovering a shattered ankle -four months in a cast and learning to walk again- pain every day for six months. So there are definitely difficult and challenging days and your journey sounds like one of great challenge and determination. Congratulations On your hard work to heal and to post great stuff! thank you

  9. Karien van der Westhuizen says:

    Hi there!
    I am from Sunny South Africa….though Summer is not here yet.
    Wow, what a journey for you, but I pray that you will recover completely!
    Life does throw a lot of curve balls at one….
    Thanks for all the amazing recipes.
    I started my LCHF journey in March this year and lost 52pounds to date. Still have a long way to go but I feel much more healthy and look so much better.
    All my love
    Karien

  10. Jules says:

    all the best with your continued improvement! Finding this out about you makes me appreciate even more the absolutely fabulous recipes you have created! Take the time to heal as I’m not through all your current recipes yet!! 😉
    Xo

  11. Eve says:

    Hi Paola, thank you for sharing your story with us. I’m so sorry to hear of you injury. You are a very inspirational young lady. I wish you nothing but a speedy recovery. Your recipes are fabulous and enjoyable, keep up the good work.
    It’s such a pleasure to get to know you. May God bless you, heal you, and keep you safe.
    Much love.🙏💕

  12. Elaine says:

    Holding you in Love and healing Light, dear Paola. Here’s to your unexpected journey and wherever it may take you! Thank you for all your lovely, high altitude, keto recipes!

  13. Mei says:

    My friend just introduced me to your site today and this is the first post I read. Thank you so much for sharing this with us – I look forward to seeing many more posts from you! You’re amazing!

  14. Saskia Nehls says:

    Dear Paola,
    Your recipes are the best and so creative. They allow for wonder substitutes of favorite but forbidden dishes. That this was born out of so much pain, I am searching for words to describe how amazing you are…
    i wish you a good recovery!!!! Hugs from Berlin. 🤗

    Love,

    Saskia

  15. Rebekah Doyle says:

    WOW! What an incredibly strong resilient Soul you are, and an awesome keto cook!!
    You are my Heroine! Love your work! Please, keep inspiring us! Many Blessing to you! <3 xoxo

  16. Amelia says:

    Paola- About a year ago I discovered your site when trying out keto as a means of controlling/reducing chronic heartburn. Your recipes were so consistently fantastic, I’ve come to rely on you to have the answer to my cravings! Thank you so much for posting your story- It is a pleasure to meet the incredibly strong woman behind such truly perfect recipes. May your journey to your best health be swift.

  17. Kelley C Kincaid says:

    Paola. So nice to put a face to a name. Love your recipes. You have helped me stay on keto for much longer than I would have without them. Because of this I am on my way to a healthier me and have lost 90 pounds. Thank you. Thank you. I too love to bake. You are in my prayers.

  18. Marilyn says:

    Prayers for you, Paola. Thank you for sharing your story; you are an inspiration. Once I found you, I pretty much stopped looking at recipes from other blogs (okay, maybe a few; but you are tops in my book!) Keep up the good recovery work and blessings to you always and all ways.

  19. Jeannie says:

    You are amazing! Your recipes are amazing — my favorite of all keto (and keto-esque) sites. Prayers and best wishes for a speedy and full recovery. Thank you.

  20. Karen Olayo says:

    Thanks for being so vulnerable and sharing your story with us all. So glad you started this site, sorry it was born out of sick a difficult time. My prayer for you is that you are completely restored in every sense of the word! Your food blog is practically the only food blog I actually check regularly, these days. Thanks so much. Love the recipes. Blessings!

  21. Nancy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing!!! I really needed to hear this story tonight. I can’t wait to continue to follow you through your journey!!

      • Hollis says:

        Wow and wow. Have blessed you many times over for your recipes as they have made a huge difference in helping me battle the consequences of my auto immune diseases. They are debilitating enough without the added impact of sciatica, let alone your circumstance. Am astounded at your good cheer and warm, loving commentary. Wishing you god speed in your healing journey. And thank you for your offerings. They are life changing.

    • Nita says:

      Paola, you are a total BADASS! I have loved your recipes for the 15 months I’ve been doing Keto. Had no idea you were suffering ill health all that time. I imagined you living an exotic life, preparing world class recipes in a fabulously appointed kitchen amid brightly colored tropical birds! Reading your story makes me love and respect you even more. Thank you for all you are!

  22. Kathi says:

    Impressive young woman you are. Thanks for sharing you story and best wishes for a full and swift recovery. So glad there are folks like you helping us maintain a low-carb lifestyle we can enjoy. Good luck!

  23. Tirzah Atencio says:

    As a sports therapist, all I can share is how amazed I am every day as to how the body will heal itself given the right “environment”…inside, outside and emotionally. Sounds like you’re on the right track with all three…Kuddos!

    • THIS!!!!! It was actually my own sports therapist who very kindly told me to notice that my pain was worse on the days that my mood was low (I was seriously down for quite a few months!). I was referred to a therapist who taught me meditation in relation to pain- how its ever changing, its nothing to fear and we can control it. Then, and only then did I began to get better.

      There will be a post about this, as it applies to anything- from illness, injury to weight loss and life. Its all about the outlook.

      Thanks for sharing Tirzah!

      • Marie says:

        I just found your site recently, looking for a gluten free pizza dough recipe. I bought all the ingredients I didn’t have and can’t wait to try it. Thank you for sharing your story. I pray you make a full recovery.

  24. Shannon P says:

    My sweet friend, we all have something! No one is immune to life’s journey of challenges. I, too, have auto-immune issues, and a very bad back. If we lived closer, I’d have you over for a proper tea, or better yet..i’d bring to you whatever your hearts desire. I love your recipes and this site makes me feel good, always. Thank you for your story and for sharing this site with so many of us. Wrapping my arms around you, my new found friend! 🤗

    • So wise my friend, no one is immune to life’s challenges indeed. And the more I live the more I see in those around me that we all go through something (constantly). But that’s what its all about right?! Growing from challenges, accepting new realities, uplifting one another and staying present to become better humans.

      Thank you for sharing, tea would be so lovely!! 🙂

  25. Esther Mendoza says:

    Your story is inspirational. There is great power in your testament of triumph. Thank you for sharing. I will pray that your health is restored and better than before!

    Your photos are incredible and hard not to drool over! Thank you for your wonderful recipes!!

  26. Joanne M Pinette says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your incredible story with all of us!! YOU rock and wish you continued healthy success in your life and your recipes! When I see a recipe from you I just have to make it. It’ an obsession I suppose but always glad that I challenged myself and made it.

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