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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. Rose says:

    Dear dear girl…how brave and resilient you are! That you can produce this wonderful foodie experience for others while struggling so hard with day to day life is beyond amazing. I just love reading your recipes. You are doing a wonderful thing! 😘❤️🎂

  2. Keren Stepp says:

    Thanks for being brave enough to go all public! This was a terrific read and truly inspiring to hear about your attitude while healing. I hope you heal truly and completely!! Keep those WONDERFUL recipes coming! Love you!

    • Keren Stepp says:

      oh, and, the world is definitely a better place with you in it. Look at all the lives you’ve single-handedly impacted!

  3. Sherry says:


    Thank you for your honest post regarding the issues you are dealing with! I’ve suffered from sciatic pain off and on for the last 10 years which would hit me mostly at night (I couldn’t sleep!). While it’s nothing like what you’re dealing with, I empathize. The only thing that helped in my situation was Pilates to strengthen my core and, therefore support my back better. My prayers are with you, and I really enjoy your recipes and look forward to the recipes to come!

  4. EseB says:

    I’m tearing up reading this. These are not born out of pity, don’t get it wrong, but admiration!
    You’re such an inspiration. I can’t imagine what you have gone through. Here I am complaining that I’m not losing weight or some other silly problem and there you are going through all this and still keeping your spirit up and finding time to entertain us with such lovely recipes.
    God bless you. I want to hug you and kiss you at the same time.
    I will keep you in my prayers. I pray you a smooth recovery.
    You obviously have a good spirit!🥰😘💪

  5. Edith Chapman says:

    Thank you for sharing and I so hope for your sake that you will be able to have a more normal life very soon. I enjoy your posts and look forward to your future ones.

  6. Stacey Lederberg says:

    My daughter and I LOVE your recipes. We have many food challenges and your recipes are always the first we go to when we need or want something yummy. Thank you so much for sharing so much with us. We are truly grateful for you and your recipes. Congratulations on your healing and my girl and I are sending you tons of healing vibes! Peace, love and low carbs! 🙂

  7. Ese B says:

    I’m tearing up reading this. These are not born out of pity, don’t get it wrong, but admiration!
    You’re such an inspiration. I can’t imagine what you have gone through. Here I am complaining that I’m not losing weight or some other silly problem and there you are going through all this and still keeping your spirit up and finding time to entertain us with such lovely recipes.
    God bless you. I want to hug you and kiss you at the same time.
    I will keep you in my prayers. I pray you a smooth recovery.
    You obviously have a good spirit!🥰😘💪

  8. Ruthe Ploskunyak says:

    I wondered where you went.

    Thank God you’re back to us.

    Your baked recipes really are a cut above others available to me.

    Bless you on your recovery journey and thank you for sharing. It is encouraging.

  9. Illume Eltanin says:

    Paola, my tradition says prayers for the I’ll and injured by using the person’s first name and their mother’s first name. Would you mind sharing what your mother’s first name is, so I could add you to my mishaberach list?

    In the meantime, may you find comfort in the following:


  10. Brittany says:

    It’s so good to learn more about you, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing more of your journey. Your recipes are some of my favorite. My husband suffers from a lifelong autoimmune disease, Type 1 diabetes, so your recipes for our family are truly more than just delicious tasting, they are life changing! Wishing you full healing and recovery!

  11. Joan T Shields says:

    Like you, I feel every one of life’s negative turns is an opportunity to learn and grow, and sometimes best done alone. I am very glad to hear that you are doing better and sharing that news with us!

  12. Reemo says:

    It’s so awesome how grateful you are 🙂 keep it up!

    Thank you for helping me with my journey to eat healthier.

    Looking forward to your new recipes 🙂

  13. Suzan Snook says:

    You don’t know me from Adam but I definitely know and appreciate your talent. I am not much of a sweet eater but I have printed many of your recipes to try if and when I get the need. I am so sorry to hear about your health issues. I hope you will be better soon and back on your feet – literally. You have a talent, young lady. Thank you for sharing it with us. Please let us know how we can help you towards complete healing. Prayers, Suzan Snook, Glendora, CA

  14. Chris says:

    Paola –

    I am so delighted that you’re healing. Best wishes and love to you always.

    I love your recipes and posts ( you’re my very favorite low carb blogger), and am grateful you plan to continue.

  15. Deborah James says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can totally relate to the sciatic pain. I have been dealing with it for 9 years now, ever since I completely blew out a disc. I would love to know what “alternative” therapy you are receiving. I refused surgery and did
    non-surgical decompression instead and the results were better (and faster) than I hoped for.
    Love your recipes.
    Espero que tenga un buen resultado con el tratamiento.

  16. Alexandra says:

    I’m in love with gnom-gnom, my dearest, sweetiest Dutch Mexican gal Paola van der Hulst! God bless you on your healing way!!!

  17. Anna says:

    Thank you so much for all you’ve done for this blog despite immense pain and suffering!! Your blog is by far my favorite keto blog, and I truly appreciate the thought and attention you put into each recipe. You can tell your recipes are vigorously tested before you put them onto the site; not all keto blogs can say the same thing!! Thank you again. I grew up about an hour from Mexico in Arizona and love you even more for the authentic Mexican dishes you have! <3

  18. Lisa A says:

    God Bless you and Dedal on your healing journey. The body is an amazing thing and your sciatic nerve pain can heal. This I know (I’m also a massage therapist). I’m in LA and know a wonderful acupuncturist who is very inexpensive as he runs a 501c3 clinic if you’d like to check it out “Pacific Coast Community Acupuncture”. His name is Craig Swogger He’s great and a lovely soul!

    And dogs are the best healers for everything!

  19. Doreen Garrett says:

    Wonderful to know you are finally on the mend. I know how painful sciatic problems are. I had to cease my nursing career after damaging mine, so can totally sympathise with you. Thank you for sharing. I actually have the same mobility scooter as you, but mine is metallic blue! Xx

  20. Kat Adams says:

    oh my goodness! I can’t even imagine laying face down for that long. this journey has certainly taught you many things and you are probably a stronger person because of it. thank you for sharing your life with us. I love your recipes and look forward to hearing from you again. Praying that your healing will be complete.

  21. Lynne B Klippel says:

    So proud of you for all your healing work…and for being a terrific chef. Thank you for all you do for all of us. Blessings

  22. Vickie Chandler says:

    I am so glad you are the road to recovery. I’m hoping that you are walking, and running, with that lovely pup in the not too distant future!

    Keep cooking!!!

  23. Oriana Riddle says:

    I am so happy that you shared your inspirational story. I am recovering from lung cancer and discovered your sight. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed every recipe we’ve tried. Thank you for your recipes, insight, and now motivation.

  24. Kim Radcliffe says:

    Best “Get Well” wishes to you! Your recipes have benefitted me so much! I am sad to learn you have been patiently and quietly struggling with your own health all this time. Sending wishes for a speedy healing to you! Thank you for sharing!

  25. Sherry BALACHANOFF says:

    Sending healing prayers your way Paulo. Never give up. You are a fighter and we all appreciate what you do for us with these recipes. Take Care

  26. Diana says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. There are more of us out here with similar stories than you think. I certainly can relate as I have autoimmune disorders as well and it’s so nice to have a community to turn who can help with the one thing we can control and that’s what we choose to put in our bodies. I wish you speedy healing and look forward to more of your great recipes. God bless!

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