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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

435 comments

  1. Jeannine says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! Keep healing and in no time you’ll be kicking down the doors! I too recently have had neuropathy in my feet. Not being a diabetic or obese, this was a mystery. My neurologist decided a no sugar diet would be the thing to try. Hence my swan dive into the Keto world. I have enjoyed your post and have tried a few of them. I can’t wait to try more! HugsXXXX

  2. Tanisha says:

    Thank you Paola! You’ve brought so much joy to our family through your recipes and I’m sending healing prayers for you.

  3. LJW says:

    Hi Paola, I really empathize with both your autoimmune health condition and nerve injury. I have autoimmune issues and my Mom has trigeminal neuralgia which severely impacts daily life by affecting the face/head with unbearable pain and is also possibly caused by myelin sheath damage (nobody knows for sure). I hope you continue to make a recovery and be able to enjoy life all the more. Thank you for all your work and great recipes.

  4. D says:

    I’ve enjoyed your blog so much. Your waffles changed my breakfast forever! HOpe you can find healing and peace! Thanks for all your hard work!

  5. Ela says:

    Paola, thank you so much for your post – I can imagine that it wasn’t that easy to tell us your story about your health-issues but believe me from what I can see and read and of course test your delicious recipes you are such an beautiful and lovely person no matter what.
    I wish you all the best and my fingers and toes are crossed that you get better day by day!!!
    Just because of the MS I’m sitting in a wheelchair since almost 6 years and live isn’t always a picnic in the parc …. but I enjoy and can’t await your emails because it’s filled with so much joy!! I’m sending you BIG HUGS and I’m wishing you all the best 😘🤗😘

    • Ela says:

      … and I forget to mention that I LOVE LOVE LOVE your pillowy soft Keto Donuts 👍👍👍, … it was the first time for me to make this kind of dough (choux pastry) but it turned out pretty good and every person that taste it are very impressed and delighted so thaaaank you sooooo much for all your hard work and sharing it with us! 😘😘😘

  6. Margie says:

    Your work is amazing and beautiful and it turns out that you are amazing and beautiful, too – not a big surprise! Warm wishes for a speedy journey to balance and good health and much happiness.

  7. Brandi says:

    Paola,

    Not only are you helping us all stay sane and enjoy amazing tasting food on our Keto journey, the comments and interactions between us all on this blog prove that there are good hearts and good people out there!! Well wishes and continued support on your healing journey. You truly are the definition of inspiration <3 xoxo

  8. Bobbi Bixby says:

    I am in awe of you – so courageous & with a positive attitude. So sorry that you have to go through this ordeal and praying that you will be healed and free of pain very soon. Appreciate all your wonderful recipes, the time that you spend on them and you sharing them with all of us.
    Wishing you good health…

  9. Erin says:

    WOW, just WOW! Thanks for sharing your story. Amazing and frightening. You never know what will come your way.

    Thanks for the incredible recipes. They’ve all been so delicious and fairly easy to make.

    Good luck and hope you continue to heal quickly!

    Erin

  10. Ivonne Altagracia Cristo Florentino says:

    Hola, Paola

    Mi nombre es Ivonne Cristo, soy de República Dominicana y llegue a tu post atravez de Ximena de la Serna del canal de Youtube thefunctionalfameleforce quien replicó tu receta de los rollos de canela y al leer tus publicaciones quedé enganchada con tu forma de expresar y transmitir atravez de tus recetas , que me encantan. Y ahora al leer parte de tu historia de vida, wuaoooo. Me quedo sin palabras antes tal grandeza. Mis respetos para ti. Espero siguas mejorando tu salud.

  11. Pat says:

    Paola, sorry to hear of your awful injury, but so glad that you are healing well. Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes.
    Love and prayers.

  12. Jutta van der Kuijp says:

    I wish nothing but a pain free life full of joy and wonderful friends… and that pup is pretty darn sweet to!

  13. michele murrin says:

    Thank you soooooo much for sharing. I’ve been having so many issues with my body in the last 2 years and that’s why I began keto…..the first site I ever found was yours and I’ve loved it, and you from the beginning. I constantly tell people to come visit!!!!
    Thank you for being so personal it’s made me feel not so alone being younger with back an nerve issues.

    Bless you

  14. Amanda Schaefer says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Paola, you are an inspiration! I had no idea the struggles you were dealing with when I discovered you and your recipes. (Which I am extremely thankful for!)

    Wishing you all the best and so glad you are on the mend!

    Amanda

  15. Raye Senecal says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Paola, for sharing your personal story and your amazing recipes! You truly are an inspiration! Be well. ❤️

  16. Lorie Wilkins says:

    Seriously can’t NOT post a comment! (Which I have only done maybe 3 other times in my entire life!) YOU are amazing!! Each recipe I have made of yours becomes an instant favorite! My health is improving already from almost 5 months of eating this way. Huge blessings! I would NEVER have guessed you had such major health challenges! I’m new to this, so all of your recipes are new to me and wonderful! Take your time! Don’t rush your comeback! My hubs has majorly suffered with that nasty neuropathy in his feet for 20+ years. I cry for him because he suffers so much! I feel great sympathy for you and what you have and are going through. Be gentle to yourself and feel SO proud of all you have done to help SO many people be healthier! I can’t wait to try every one of your delicious recipes! So much love to you and your continued healing! Lorie (from beautiful Utah) XOXOXO

  17. ADB_BWG says:

    Your bagels have been lifestyle Channing for me and I tell everyone about the website and recipe! Wishing you speedy and peaceful healing.

  18. Marilee Gallinger says:

    Thank-you for sharing your journey so far & being transparent. You have such a great gift of communication & cooking, which we all benefit from. Keep growing & getting stronger. You are awesome!!😊💕

  19. Kate says:

    Hi Paola, reading your incredible story, then all the kind and uplifting stories has brought a few tears…in this life that is overwhelmed with such negativity and sadness, I can always count on nothing but fun and girly giggles whenever I click that button! I deal with pain often too…thank you and all these wonderful fans for making a pretty lonely day a whole lot better! I wish the world could slow down, get into the kitchen and just enjoy a moment. Thanks, all of you..yay smiles! I hope you’re on a quick mend, take care of you, Paola…we will all be here cheering you on 🙂

    • My dear Kate, I’ve been all teary-eyed since yesterday too lol!! You guys just never fail to surprise me, and I’ve been beyond overwhelmed by all the love and good energy sent my way. I mean… just wow!

      Are humans beautiful or what?!

      Thank you for taking the time to write, I enjoy seeing your comments girl 🙂 big kiss!

    • MaryAnn DaPonte says:

      Glad you are continuing to get stronger. I use an electric scooter just like yours. I love your recipes. I pray you continue to heal.

    • Wilder Regalbuto says:

      Paola,

      I just found you!! Bought your cookbooks and have been trying tons of yummy foods. Family is loving all of it!! Get better soon. And thank you for helping me make keto meals for all my family.

  20. Tracy M says:

    Thank you! I, as many others, have auto-immune diseases and live most of my days on a couch. It sucks! I started Keto with my husband 3 months ago and hoping things begin to turn around. New issues seem to have arisen or worsened, but hoping it’s the adjustment period. I’m a planner but have done poor job planning Keto. I think I tend to starve myself more than eat properly mainly because it’s exhausting to go to the kitchen sometimes. Plus now that kids back to college my shoppers are gone. Though oddly still have weight that just loves to hang on.
    I’m inspired to try to cook better and thrilled to find a site dedicated to this lifestyle by someone as genuine as you. Keep it up! Making cauliflower-Mac & cheese tonight. Wish me luck!

  21. Dominic Brennan says:

    Hey, I don’t know you but I appreciate all the hard work you put into the site. It helps a lot of people and I personally make your recipes frequently. I currently have your salted caramel in the freezer and some of your chocolate mouse waiting me for when I get home. I hope you continue to heal and wish you all the best in the future.

  22. Debbie says:

    I feel your pain. I was in a little fender bender & ripped a disc in half it kept leaking spinal fluid & I had pain that kept me in bed for hrs at a time w 3 young kids. I’d get them ready for school then hit the bed til they came home. Tried everything too but surgery fixed the back problem. Nerves like soft tissue hard to treat & heal. Your cbd recommendations helped w the knee issue.

    Thanks for all your terrific recipes.

  23. Barbara Mannle says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey, that took some courage.
    I love your recipes!!! thank you,
    All the best,
    Barbara

  24. Pam says:

    Thank you for all of your amazing recipes. Sending you blessings of healing, love and light to power your journey forward.

  25. Brian says:

    Is it possible for someone to be so full of healing energy that she can’t help but overflow, almost accidentally healing others, even complete strangers thousands of miles away, just by trying to heal herself?

    I think I’ll go with “yes” on that one.

    Thanks for all the inspiration. You got something there, I think we can agree! 🙂

    • Thank you Brian, you struck deep!

      A fellow reader commented earlier how food healed me twice, first through my diet and then through the blog. And I have indeed found such bliss (and muuuch needed comfort lol!) in knowing that my keto kitchen discoveries where bringing such delectable moments for y’all 🙂

      We might complain about the internet and social media, but its ability to bring together a community of strangers (thousands of miles away, as you say) is simply unparalleled… and absolutely beautiful!

      xoxo!

      • Brian says:

        Your recipes have helped me control diabetes and inflammation, and helped my wife get a handle on symptoms of RA and lymphedema, all of which are exacerbated by sugars.

        I remember completing and serving your scone recipe for the first time, and the look on my wife’s face when she took her first bite (we had been abstaining from pastries and goodies for months prior). She looked up, mouth full of Gnom-Gnom goodness, and said, “No sugar? Really?!” crumbs flying everywhere. “We don’t HAVE to suffer..!” I replied. She laughed, I poured the coffee, and we devoured them!

        A little joy goes a long, long way. The healing goes on, and our thoughts are with you! Thanks again.

    • Reena says:

      I so fully agree with you Brian, Paola is a beautiful soul !
      Thank you” Brian, for taking the time to bless us all with your tender heart ❤

  26. Sandra Chiavaroli says:

    Paola, you are an inspiration to many of us.
    I found gnom gnom less than a year ago and have been using your recipes and advice to make many delicious deserts.
    It amazes me that you took the time to respond to my questions while struggling with your own issues. You are extremely altruistic!
    I wish you all the best in your recovery and am confident that with your attitude you will be back on your feet in no time. God Bless.
    Sandra

    • Sandra Chiavaroli says:

      Sorry I posted again because I’ve been having problems with my phone and didn’t think you got the first one.

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