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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. Dear Paola,

    Thank you for sharing your personal journey…..if we knew everyone’s “story”, I believe that we would be so much more loving and connected! NO ONE has it easy; some are more obscure than others.
    Your site has helped me so much with my neuropathy and rosacea….losing the sugar is such a blessing and you are so amazing to have accomplished all that you’ve done in the midst of so many challenges. I know that every challenge, set-back, injury, etc. is a lesson for us or others and we grow in wisdom and love as we recognize each lesson, love it and release it to recycle into goodness. I hold you in my prayers as you go through this time and think of you full of light and love.

  2. Claudia says:

    Sorry to hear you’ve had such a rough time of it, Paola! I’ve had my own health issues in recent years, so you have my complete sympathy.

    I’m so glad you’re healing and ever so grateful that you share your fantastic kitchen experiments with us!

  3. Naida says:

    Awesome! Very inspirational, I’m been trying Keto since Jan 2018, dropped 30 lbs and over the holidays got kicked off ketosis. Im trying to jump on back but life throws curves balls at you but you just got to keep on going.

    Bless you! looking forward to more recipes.

  4. Terry Fearon says:

    Wow! I had no idea about what you were going through. I’ve just been enjoying your recipes, marvelling at your energy and abilities in the kitchen!!

    Thank you for your transparency. I can imagine that it is difficult to ‘bare one’s soul’ like you’ve done. May God bless you with full recovery and with peace along the journey towards restoration. ❤️

  5. Cydney says:

    Thank you for a peek behind the scene of Gnom-Gnom. I had no idea that you were unwell. I love your recipes… They really ARE gnom-gnom!
    Due to pain caused by my health challenges (Osteoarthritis & fibromyalgia) I started Keto a year ago. I’m finding this helps my overall health & I’m managing pain more effectively! ( Still have some bad days, but improving.)
    You & two others I’ve found on Pinterest, have supplied me with so many delicious do-able recipes! I enjoy your cite because you’re not only friendly-you’re professional & intelligent… okay & I really appreciate your photography! You make everything look soo good.
    Thank you Paola, so much for deciding to share your experience in such a non-dramatic, dignified way. Your view of your health is so balanced & grateful! (I’m still working on that.) It’s so encouraging to me to know that you relate to those of us with challenges in the health department! And that implementing your recipes can assist to better health! This is exactly what I’m looking for!
    I hope you continue to make progress in your journey to better health,
    Thank you for sharing your creativity, Cydney, Vancouver, BC

  6. Carolyn Bock says:

    So much empathy for the frustrating *slowness* and unknowns of such a healing journey, Paola, and sharing your joy & gratitude for progress!! Your recipes are HANDS DOWN the best, most reliable, most inventive solutions to recreating favorites to meet Keto nutritional goals. I always recommend your site to beginners and would 100% buy a hard copy recipe book if you published! Thanks for sharing your recipes & insights – wishing you the very best!

  7. Lauri Etling says:

    God bless you Paola, I could not imagine what you have gone through. I will keep your comfort and healing in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your story. I love your wonderful recipes. I look forward to making the next goodie.
    Lauri in STL

  8. Anita says:

    Dearest Paola i am so Happy and wish the best healing continues . Thank you for sharing .
    You ‘er 💎Awesome 💎🌺 and such an inspiration
    of all your Mouthwatering way of creating the delicious food . Thank you so much ☀️ Alot of hugs and kisses

  9. Toby says:

    Thanks for your story, Paola. I hope everyday you get a little better. Also your recipes are wonderful, you’re truly gifted!
    Here’s to a wonderful life.

  10. Josée says:

    Happy for you Paola. Continue to WALK in your great recovery.
    I tried and love your recepies, trying to go keto for MS and see if it will make a difference for me.
    Thank you for sharing, we need people like you and I appreciate your help enormously.
    Josée 😁

  11. Kimberly Neel Adams says:


    Thank you so much for sharing an incredibly personal information about you and your life. I cherish your adventure and knowledge even more knowing what challenges you have had most recently

  12. Terry Hargrave says:

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story. I had no idea. It is very inspirational. Thank you so much for your recipes. They are really helping me. I will now Hope for your continued recovery. Really amazing.

  13. Lisa says:

    So happy to meet you, I love your recipes! Thank you for sharing about your struggle, I sincerely hope you get full mobility back and can be pain free. 😊
    Looking forward to seeing more recipes.

  14. Kathryn says:


    You have done so much for me throughout my journey to a healthier, better version of me. My family and I (keto and non-keto alike) are immensely thankful for the inspiration you have given us in the kitchen and the memories we’ve made over the dinner table. Food has always been a huge part of my life and I worried adopting a keto lifestyle would lead to the loss of my love of cooking in the kitchen. You have made me feel inspired. I am so sorry to hear of your struggles, but thrilled you have opened up to us. You mean so much to all of us and we would love to offer you some support and encouragement in return.

  15. Celina Rios says:

    Hello Paola, I pray for a speedy recovery. I really enjoy all of your wonderful recipes that I haven’t gotten to make them all. I find relief in your wonderful recipes since I have lots of issues with certain foods. I have been on the Keto diet and I have felt so much better. A big hug. Thanks! Celina Rios

  16. Amanda says:

    Wow Paola, your story and your unselfish gift to us all brings me to tears. Here I have only merely thanked you, praised you and shared your recipes with all I know as you are and have been going through such an intense and yeah finally healing experience. I feel selfish to have not known just how profound it has been for you to create and share your kitchen masterpieces while ensuring all of this! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us all and for helping my family to be so Keto healthy and belly happy!
    Big kisses to your healing!!!!!! Bravo

  17. LeAnna says:

    Paola, Congratulations on your continued recovery! By the way, You and Your recipes are Amazing! You are my Go-To for my Healing journey. Thank you!

  18. Margot says:

    Dear Paola!

    Wow! What a journey and what an inspiration to hear how you’ve turned your pain into a gift for others. I recently have had extreme struggles and have felt the amazing presence of God holding me up when I could not take a step forward. I would say, I know God is in this problem. I know He has a plan and I KNOW it is for my good. Sometimes it takes a while to get to the good….I will put you on my prayer list for a full recovery and an abundant vibrant life!
    I always look forward to getting your recipes. Your chocolate layer cake and cauliflower mac are family staples.
    Thank you for inspiring us in the kitchen & in life!
    God bless you!

  19. Candace says:

    Best of luck with your recovery. I just found your site a few weeks ago, and although I love the recipes, I never make any of them b/c your measurements are not US-friendly! Is there a way for you to put both US and Euro measurements on the recipes?

  20. AnaMin says:

    Hi Paola,

    Thank you for the warm and wonderful intro. I’m sorry to hear about the injury but I am glad you are bouncing back! Well wishes to you on a full recovery!

    We all should be thanking you for the awesome recipes, they are the best tasting Keto recipes i’ve ever found. I truly think you brought Keto to a higher level. Xoxo

  21. Kathi says:

    Wow, Paola. Thank you for sharing with us your story of healing. And I do hope it is a full healing you will have. I love that you were willing to give Keto the necessary time, even when that stretched into years, to heal your body. So many people are so impatient, thinking Keto will heal in just a month or two a lifetime of nutritional insults to the body. Blessings upon you and many thanks for sharing your fabulous recipes with us. I’ve made so many and loved them all.

  22. Renee says:

    I hope you continue to heal both physically and emotionally! Your recipes have saved my toosh on many occasions! Love to you!

  23. Ronalyn Hurley says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have so much admiration and respect for you. I have enjoyed your recipes and am in awe that you were able to continue gnom-gnom in spite of the challenges you have faced. I’ve no doubt you will continue to heal and flourish.

  24. Jackie says:

    Hello, you are sooooo adorable and thank you for sharing your story. It makes feel that I know you. I love every recipe you send my way and always get excited when I See Gnom Gnom in my emails.
    I’ll be praying for you,
    God bless,

  25. Dee says:

    So happy for you. We know it has been a hard road and you have found the courage and determination to conquer it. Good for You!!!

    So glad you will be helping us again in our struggle to eat properly for our health. Thanks you so much.

  26. Bernadette Klinke says:

    God bless you and may your healing continue. You are in my prayers. Take care of you everything else will fall into place. Blessings for health, happiness and prosperity.

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