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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. sandy says:

    WOW- quite a journey – you are Amazing!! Thanks for sharing, its good to know we all have out struggles to work through. CHEERS to YOU

  2. Mari Chapa says:

    Chica, you are an awesome person, filled with hope and sharing your love for Keto and the lives you are changing with your recipes. I open you’re walking better every day. I got your Speedy Keto and I finally discovered how to print your online recipes. I didn’t know what that squiggly line was… LOL. THANK YOU! Sigue tu camino de recuperación-lo lograrás, amiga!

  3. Loell says:

    You are such an incredibly motivational and beautiful woman! I personally truly appreciate your work, your dedication and your spirit. Through carving out your own path, you are helping so many of us around the world. I hope you can feel the immense love we have for you as we follow you and connect through your AMAZING JAW-DROPPING recipes and experiments. You are blessed and your energy will only continue to create fantastic things, situations and realities… no matter how rocky the road is along the way. To your full recovery! *cheers!!!!*

  4. Leti says:

    Paola,
    Lo siento que estejas passando por todo eso pero que bueno que estas recuperandose. Gracias por compartir su historia y tantas recetas tan deliciosas! 😘

  5. Kandice Kelly says:

    Wow! I had no idea you were struggling! Your site is so amazing. I only found it (and Keto) 8 months ago, but it’s the only site I go to for recipes, and I’ve never thought you were light on the posts. Your recipes are so well researched and developed (and delicious).

    Glad you’re healing. Thank you so much for what you’ve done so far, and for having the strength and desire to continue with the site.

  6. Sarah says:

    I’ve also found that keto is a long term solution for my long term chronic pain. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which essentially means that my body really sucks at soft tissue, especially my joints. I dislocate joints ridiculously easy if I’m not careful, and even if I am! I spent my senior year choir tour in Southern California wearing two knee braces every moment I was awake. Keto, especially modified for low/no dairy and selective meat, is seriously changing my health for the better. Even if I’m not losing weight rapidly anymore, I can now walk across my college campus without fearing collapse.

    I’m so glad to hear it helps your body heal from chronic pain as well. I’d love to travel for university but I think I’ll stick to where I am for now. I’m constantly in awe of your recipes and use Gnom Gnom as my first source when my mother, also ketogenic, says “hey, Sarah, do you know how to make _______ keto?” I can’t thank you enough for this website. Even if you never updated again, I’d be satisfied for life.

    Wishing you low-pain days and unburnt bread,
    Sarah

  7. edelaine florence o hayco says:

    hi paula, my name is edelaine, a gal with epilepsy, yes, keto for that too,

    its so inspiring to see someone that i look so high up to actually struggle through the same things i do, thanks for writing about this today paola, after that big seizure the other day i feel like im back to zero again.

    no, not after this post, lets all hold hands and wade through this together!

  8. Georgina says:

    Paola gracias por todas tus recetas ninguna falla! y por el empeño y dedicación que pones en esta página! Espero que tengas una total recuperación muy pronto. Saludos desde Costa Rica!

  9. Francesca says:

    All my love and best wishes to you Paola, I adore this lovely site of yours and your recipes have literally been a life-saver for someone on keto, like myself. I also suffer from an auto-immune disease, so I thank you for sharing all that you do. I am sure that many of us will continue to support you in whatever way we can (buying your lovely cookbooks etc.). I may have an ulterior motive in that I am still hoping for the perfect keto stroopwafel and croissants from you!
    X
    Francesca

  10. Karen says:

    Hi, Paila. Thanks for sharing. I have small fiber neuropathy and my daughter has POTS, a dysautonomia, and fibromyalgia, so I’m with you…..I’ll add you to my prayers.

  11. Veronica Lamb says:

    You’ve been through a lot! I want to thank you for all of your wonderful recipes. You’ve made my change to a low-carb lifestyle so much easier and less depressing! Wishing you continued healing and eagerly looking forward to more of your fantastic recipes!

  12. Lori says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are a keto culinary goddess and I often refer others to your recipes! Wishing you well on your journey to a full recovery.

  13. Carol Xenos says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your recipes and insight have helped put me on a path I never thought I’d walk by allowing me to eat healthy delicious meals AND lose weight I have been trying to get off for years. To hear of your struggles makes me admire and value what you share even more. Wishing you healing and peace!

  14. Angelina says:

    Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. It helps a lot of ppl that can relate and they know they aren’t going through it alone. Ps. You’ve changed my life. I’m 30lbs down from your food and feeling better. My joints don’t hurt so much either and I have more focus. Thank you Xoxoxo our thoughts and prayers go out to you

  15. Delilah says:

    Paola, thank you for sharing your challenges and struggles with us! You are an inspiration and proof that hard work, positivity and resilience CAN and WILL see you through anything! May you continue to strengthen your body, mind and soul.

    I love everything you make and literally drool on my phone when u post stuff on IG! lol, I kid you not! Big hugs coming to you from Toronto, Canada!

  16. Chrissy says:

    Thank you for sharing with us, Paola. Food has such an emotional connection for many of us, and it’s nice to know who is creating these lovely recipes for us. Your keto eggnog and amaretti cookies are already certain to be new Christmas traditions for our family. I also love getting to see your pup as I’ve always appreciated your warnings for us animal lovers on every recipe that includes xylitol. I’m sorry you’ve been struggling so much with your health, but I do hope that your latest treatment brings you a great deal of relief. Thanks for all that you do.

  17. Julie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s so nice to get to meet you and know you a little bit better. I’m glad to hear and see you’re on the mend. Please know how grateful I am, and I’m sure everyone is, that you spend time experimenting with and posting all these wonderful recipes. I have yet to find one I didnt like, and it has made my low carb journey so much better. I hope all the best for you!!

  18. Kat says:

    Wow Paola! Have you ever heard the word, Kismet?
    Meaning destiny; fate.
    synonyms: fate, destiny, fortune, providence, the stars, God’s will, what is written in the stars, one’s doom, one’s portion, one’s lot, one’s lot in life, karma, predestination, preordination, predetermination, what is to come, the writing on the wall; luck, chance.
    It was Kismet that I received your newsletter which bravely spoke of your journey. I too have autoimmune problems and my 13 doctors are still trying to figure out what it is. I have vowed to maintain positive, and not give in to the possible outcomes with having advanced liver disease. I am a mother of 3 boys and I am also an RN and I am very lucky that I had medical background and found this problem before it killed me. I too have learned how to calm my body, meditate, exercise and eat to heal.
    Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes and for sharing your story. I live by the mantra that Dory uses in the Nemo movies, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”

  19. Rose says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Sending healing thoughts and hugs your way! Your recipes have made my changes to my dietary way of life so easy. I am sure you have made a huge impact in many lives with your recipes and your genuine nature. BTW, did I say, I looooove your recipes?

  20. Yuko says:

    Hi Paola –
    I also had central and peripheral neuronal damages due to dr’s misdiagnosis – so I feel your story. For me, R-lipoic acid, carcumin, and MSM and lots of other herbal neuro-protective, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidants slowly brought functionality….I’m happy to know you have a good alternative medicine healer, but if my knowledge and experience can be of any help, please feel free to shoot me.
    You have so much talent – your bread is still best ever! Wish you be best for your full recovery! Love, Yuko

  21. Melinda Engstrom says:

    Dear Paola, good luck and my best wishes to you for your recovery. Thank you for sharing with us. I have been keto for 7 months and I have always admired your recipes so much. You’re my gold standard! I hope I can make things as well as you one day. Get well soon, beautiful lady! xxx

  22. Ruth Turner says:

    Thank you for sharing a very painful and private time of your life. You are doing a great job experimenting in the kitchen with a bravery I don’t have. Thank you again for your recipes which my family has enjoyed. It helps to have brave pioneers like you in the journey of living a keto or low carb lifestyle.

  23. Lisa Barker says:

    Paola- You are so amazing! Every recipe I have tried from your blog is so delicious and comes out really great! I am so sorry to hear of your struggles. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am sending love and healing energy your way!
    I love your recipes! Thanks so much for creating them.
    -Lisa

  24. Guyo says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. Very personal, indeed! I hope your health continues improving and you continue regaining mobility & get back to walking. Your blog is wonderful and all these creative recipes make keto and low-carb eating much more enjoyable.

  25. Sherry Tickle says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing your story, we just never know what someone may be going thru. I deal with alot, so I found your post very inspiring to this 60 yr old cook. I’ve cooked all my life until diagnosed with diabetes 5 yrs ago. I thought I had to stop cooking but the internet has shown me there are other ways. Your knowledge of ingredients and telling us how/why they work has been a huge help. I wish you continued success with your health.

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