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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!)



  1. Marissa says:

    Thanks for sharing!!! I love your recipes and now know you a little more my thoughts and prayers for a speed recovery thank you thank you thank you for your deliciosas recipes xoxo

  2. Mags says:

    An absolute pleasure to meet you Paola. Thank you for sharing all your incredible recipes and zest for life and food!
    I wish you a continued recovery, with lots of love and best wishes!

  3. Melissa E. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this personal story. I have loved your blog and recipes for a couple of years now. It nice to know a little more about the amazing woman behind the scenes!

  4. Deborah says:

    Big kiss back to you and so very glad to hear you are finally up an about taking first steps to regaining your mobility.

    Your recipes have been such a gift to so many of us and your generosity of spirit shines through your writing.

    The very best to you and I know your loyal readers hope that each week brings you another step closer to your goal …..whatever level of mobility that may be.

    And selfishly we are thrilled that new recipes will be coming our way…..waiting with baited breath (and a bit of salivation)!

  5. Aimee says:

    Thank you for taking the time to introduce yourself and to share your story. Reading your blog posts before your recipes is always fun for me (which is saying a lot because normally I skip over them). You mean so much to all of us and we really do appreciate all of your trials and errors to create amazing recipes for us. Keep on keeping on, sister!

  6. Carolina Cartagena says:

    You poor thing, may you recover fully real
    Soon. You are a beautiful young lady that deserves a quality life !!!!

  7. Emily says:

    What an inspirational post Paola! I am so sorry for your struggles, and I pray you continue to get better and back to a more comfortable and normal life. Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you again 100 times over for sharing your delicious recipes with us all. ❤️

  8. Terry Dukette says:

    Hi Ms Paola 😀 …. Thanks for the personalization. I’d like to ask for one other personal item. In that Americans tend to “adapt” names of people & places and, since I’ve only read your name, how do you pronounce it properly? I’ve been saying “Paula” in my head when I read it. I pass along your website to quite a few friends & relatives and always stumbled at your name. Anyway…. Thanks for all the great content on the site as well as in the recipe books that I’ve gotten from you… Terry

  9. Rita Di Rosa says:

    Oh my gosh who knew you were going through all of this. Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your journey. I know I can safely speak for myself and others your huge amount of recipes (one of the best keto sites), your humour, your detail and your inventive recipes have helped me in my own personal keto journey.
    I wish you strength, courage, patience and love during and most of all health, in this topsy turvy time in your life.
    Sending you lots of hugs Paola!!
    Thank you so much for all that you do

  10. Julie Martinez says:

    Wow, you have such an amazing attitude… what a horrendous thing to go through! I’ve always loved your recipes (every single one I’ve tried has been delish), but your story is even more inspiring, so thank you for sharing it. Keep healing…

  11. Kbomar says:

    I had no idea you were providing these wonderful recipes while dealing with such significant physical and emotional challenges. Thank you for your site. I appreciate it even more now. Sending positive thoughts and prayers for a joyful life your way.

  12. sara says:

    Paola, your story is inspiring! Thank you for sharing! I am a food stylist and avid entertainer of friends and clients but also suffer from pain due to chronic inflammation . I refer to your recipes all the time. You are my favorite inspiration! Keep up the fight and positive energy Paola! love and hugs fellow food artist!

  13. Judy says:

    Nice to “meet” you Paola! I’ve enjoyed your recipes so much – even the mistakes are delicious! You are lovely and I hope you continue to be patient with yourself as you recover! Thank you thank you thank you for your generosity in sharing so much of yourself with your readers!

  14. Bonny says:

    Thanks for sharing!! I have fibromyalgia, and severe pain due to a very bad compound fracture in my left leg, AND nerve pain due to two strokes. So I can emphasize!! BUT I can walk, talk, and sing praises to the God of creation, Jesus Christ.

  15. Cecily Reading says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing your personal story! I very much enjoy your recipes and now I can picture you painfully but joyfully playing in your kitchen! I’m sending you love and blessings and healing energy always!

    In Joy,

  16. Cheryl Pfeiffer says:

    THANK YOU, Paola!! Thank you for taking the time to be honest and vulnerable with so many people! I stumbled upon gnom-gnom about 3 months ago and it has been such a blessing!!! This has been the very definition of “game changer” for me and my husband. Thank you for that and all that you do! Praying for continued healing and strength for you!!

  17. Debra Olsson says:

    i am so glad you are getting closer to you being totally healed. you said your treatment was alternative, can i ask what you did..i have been close to 100 % bedridden. i literally only get up to use the bathroom and to go to dr’s appts which are horrific walking through my home and down the porch steps and so on. and coming back is as hard too. doctor’s dont have a clue but i believe it is a pinched nerve either in my left leg up by the hip or near my sciatic nerve which i have had issues with off and on for about 25 years. do you have any advice for me? i was pretty active before all this. i miss the bike riding and just doing housework and seeing my home neat and clean..thank you and many blessings.

  18. Aisling says:

    Best post yet! Great to meet you – long time recipe fan and dirty keto enthusiast. Currently consuming no churn coffee ice cream – I don’t know whether to send a million virtual hugs or curse the fact I found your site – it’s TOO GOOD! Thank you x

  19. Anne says:

    What a beautiful and brave post about your journey. I try to work on being grateful everyday but now I am inspired to do more. Sending healing thoughts your way and look into homeopathy if you haven’t already, hypericum is wonderful for healing nerve damage. Can’t wait to have some new recipes from you as you make Keto life SO delicious I feel bad for anyone who hasn’t discovered it yet!

  20. Michael Zimmerman says:

    Paola, Have you tried A Ketogenic diet to heal your ailes?

    Get well, continue to recover and thank you for all you do for us! I love your site and your recipes are amazing. You are helping all of us and we appreciate you everyday. Thanks for sharing your story with us and good luck!

  21. Debra Jacobs says:

    Paola, thank you for sharing your story with us, I to have sciatic nerve damage from two bulging discs in my lower back its sure is hard sometimes being in constant pain all day, I was going to have surgery but really dont want to and have just found a new treatment near me call spinal decompression with a special bed imported from the US as I am in New Zealand just saving up my pennies now have great hopes of it helping, I just love your recipes you are so talented I enjoy your blog so much.

  22. Pieri says:

    Dear Paola,
    Very brave of you to share your journey. Never fails to amaze me how strong the human spirit truely is. I hope you continue on this postive path and would like to thank you for doing what you do. Your time and efforts are appriciated….more than you know.
    I look forward to your daily emails and send you get well wishes.
    Hugs from Canada

  23. Vickie says:

    Prayers for you to have a complete recovery. We truly enjoy your page and recipes. Take care of you first, the rest will come. Be blessed.

  24. Valerie Johnston says:

    Oh my goodness, Paula! You have been through h$11 and back. What an incredibly strong woman you are! Keep plugging along. I have tried so many recipes of yours since January. Last night I strayed from my regular Keto CC Cookie and made yours. So unbelievably delish! You are doing great! Don’t push to do too much at first. Know that we love you and will keep on reading whether the recipes are new or not. We are all there for you!💕💕

  25. Tina Palma says:

    Oh Paola I’ve enjoyed your recipes immensely and I have learned so much from you. My prayers are with you for your continued improvement and healing. Be well and look forward to your “new” recipes coming out. With sincerity, Tina Palma

  26. Kat says:

    Wow! What an incredible human being you are! Thank you so much for sharing your story and personal journey. It is truly inspiring, and we have all been so blessed to have some Paola on our own food journeys! Your site has always been my go to for recipes, and I share it with my followers on my Keto FB page on the regular. You are a powerhouse, and I have no doubt you will be on your feet before you know it. Healing wishes to you in your continued recovery, and I can’t wait to see what you have in store!!!

  27. Kristi says:

    Thank you for posting–it’s so wonderful to *meet* you. What an awful ordeal you’ve gone through! I’m glad you’re able to get out and about finally! <3

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