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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

438 comments

  1. Jenny says:

    You’re such an inspiration! How you kept this to yourself all this time. Thank you for sharing the roller coaster with us…and hopefully we can share some of your burden. Don’t ever be afraid (or shy) to share and be uplifted. You’re an amazing woman and so very talented. Thank you for all the work you put into your development of tasty recipes. I’m now hooked on the 90 second bread and found a little plastic sandwich container at the supermarket (in back-to-school supplies area). Works like a charm. XO hugs and warm wishes for a full recovery!

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      Thank you Jenny!! And funny you mention of not being shy to share and be uplifted… I feel like my therapist keeps telling me that looooooool!!! I don’t know what I thought would happen if I shared… I am SO overwhelmed by all of you guys (literally have been tearing up all day!!) Hugs and kisses!

  2. Denise Rita says:

    Paola :- it’s a blessing to hear your testimony!
    You expressed words of how Good things come after going hardship by believing you will get better. Your info that prices Good information has helped me learn more of how the different ingredients work best with and even when it flops, just keep trying til it becomes. Your life story is a Good testimony to hear and know you are back on your feet enjoying one step at a time. God bless!

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      Great things really do come for hardship, I truly wouldn’t change my experience for the world… it made me who I am today after all! Big kiss Denise, and thank you for sharing too!

  3. Denise Rita says:

    Paola :- it’s a blessing to hear your testimony!
    You expressed words of how Good things come after going hardship by believing you will get better. Your info that prices Good information has helped me learn more of how the different ingredients work best with and even when it flops, just keep trying til it becomes. Your life story is a Good testimony to hear and know you are back on your feet enjoying one step at a time. God bless!

  4. cherie says:

    Paola! What an ordeal! You are an extraordinary young woman. I love your website and your recipes because they’re wonderful – hearing that you did all that on top of all your other accomplishments and while suffering and healing through SO VERY MUCH is just astonishing. I am sending you light and love and all the healing thoughts at my disposal – delighted to SEE you and your sweet friend – and wishing you all the very best as your healing progresses.

  5. Ellen Heindel says:

    Dear Paola, we were SO touched by your very personal and challenging journey. I just wanted to let you know that my husband and I enjoy your recipes immensely! In fact, they are a big reason why we wanted to try Keto! They’re delicious and satisfying all at once—ESPECIALLY the ones with chocolate, the chocolate ice cream was to die for! One never feels deprived! Thank you for sharing them with us and we wish you all the best on your complete recovery!

  6. Donna Chi says:

    Your story “touched a nerve” with me because I also suffer from a severe, systemic neuropathy. My heart really goes out to you because I know how the frustration of something like this can be [almost] worse than the pain itself. And let me just say that I’ve been considering B12 injections, but now I know that won’t be happening! But long before I knew about the issues you’ve been fighting, your recipes and your information on food helped me reclaim parts of my life that I had given up on. At first, you simply gave me alternatives that I needed in order to avoid the ingredients that were killing me. But by embracing the options that you provide, I started to heal, and that gave me the strength and conviction to overcome a lifetime of debilitating choices. The result is that I’ve eliminated “off the chart” inflammation markers, incapacitating brain fog, exhaustion, high bad cholesterol, low good cholesterol – all of which I’ve fought for decades – AND I lost 40 pounds! But even way beyond all of that, I actually REVERSED full-blown type 2 diabetes! My doctor simply can’t believe it! Finally, I wanted you to know how I’m thriving, just in case you ever reflect upon your injuries and illness and wonder “why me?”. I know. It’s because you were the one chosen to help me and possibly thousands of others. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      I’m really sorry to hear about your own health struggles Donna- I feel you right back! Have you checked out sublingual B12 (I kinda wished a doctor would’ve told me about that one looool!)?!

      Anyways, congrats on your HUGE health milestones- it feels me with joy to know my recipes were a little part of your healing story 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  7. jillian says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It must have taken a lot of courage to face such pain and immobility. I admire your openness. I love your site and recipes…and am sure I could not have done so much in the same circumstances. And your doggie is an adorable love bug too.

  8. judy Clark says:

    Oh my goodness bless your heart! Thank you for sharing your story! Knowing what you’ve been through makes each and every recipe you send that much more special! Thank you for all you do, even when you don’t feel like doing it! God bless you with a complete healing!!!

  9. Barbara Nicoll says:

    I am happy to hear you are marching forward with your healing journey. I was sorry to hear what you have been through, but you seem in good spirits. A positive attitude really helps when one is healing (I know from experience)! I am looking forward to new recipes when you are up to it. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Wishing you all good things!

  10. Lisa Thorsen says:

    You look so carefree in your profile picture, I never would have thought you were going through such a difficult time. Thank goodness you created this web page to give you something to focus on during your recovery . Just remember everyone is going through something, you’re not alone in that . Its how you deal with it that makes you the person that you are.
    What an incredible life you’ve led so far Paola! I thank you so much for creating gnom- gnom , it has been an inspiration in my life, and have referred it to many people.

    best of luck with your recovery.

  11. Janine Hoffart says:

    Awww A Great Big Thank You for sharing your story Paola!!! I’m so grateful for you! And I have loved your recipes…good for you for turning your struggles into something so beautiful 💚

    I pray for your health and long lasting (forever) success.

    MANY BLESSINGS TO YOU 💚💚💚

    Janine
    British Columbia
    Canada

  12. Jess says:

    Thank you for sharing this about yourself! I loved your recipes before and now i appreciate them even more! best of luck on your journey of self-healing and thank you for all the love you pour into your amazing recipes!

  13. Dejana says:

    Love your recipes, you are such an inspiration, I am glad that you are getting better and good luck with everything 👍🏻☺️

  14. Beth says:

    Bless your heart, Paola. Hope your journey to health continues in an upward spiral. Thank you for all the great recipes and recommendations you provide. Amazing to think you did this while face down these last several months! Ending BIG hugs and loads of love your way.
    Beth

  15. Eilidh says:

    Oh Paola, you have been through so much! I wish you all the very best for a full recovery. Thank you for all your fabulous recipes and pictures, which are completely mouth-watering! Take care ❤️

  16. Emily says:

    I “found” your blog a few weeks ago, and am thrilled with the amazing recipes. Not only that I have learned SO MUCH about baking this way, so *thank you* so very much 🙂
    Continued healing to you!

  17. Nancy McQuade says:

    Wow, Paola!! What an adventure you’ve been on!! Sending you BIG hugs and prayers that only Peace, strength, health and healing will be yours going forward.
    And by the way, GNOM-GNOM is my #1 favourite place for the best food ever!!! Please keep up the fantastic work you do here. ~Nancy xo (a huge fan!)

  18. Cat says:

    It is so nice to learn more about our gluten free, keto baking guru. I am so sorry to hear about your struggle. You alluded to it from time to time but never in a million did I imagine it was this bad. You are always so upbeat and chipper when you respond to comments. Isn’t it amazing how life can change in an instant? You are such a strong lady and very much admired.

    So, so happy you are feeling better. Hope and pray you make a full recovery. I’m happy us gnom-gnom readers, bakers, commenters have played a small part in making your days better. That makes my heart smile, just as your recipes make my palate smile. 😊

    P.S. I don’t know how to handle the lack of a rating option. I’m so accustomed to giving everything on your blog 5 stars. So….. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  19. Roxanna Oliver says:

    Paola van der Hulst, congratulations to you and your journey. You are an inspiration. I only recently joined Gnom Gnom as a result of trolling (lol ) your recipes and thought oh my goodness this is creativity here.
    Best of Luck on your healing journey and thank you for the wonderful recipes
    Keto On
    Roxanna

  20. Christina Carrion says:

    Awww thank you for sharing such a personal life experience! I’m glad you’re doing better & hope it continues! Thank you for providing me with low carb or keto Mexican food recipes that keep me on the right track! You rock girly! \m/
    Prayers going out to you! =)

  21. Debie Bodjanac says:

    WOW! For all the challenges you have and are experiencing in life, you do a great job sharing these wonderful recipes for those of us that are on, myself, KETO. Yours are the ones I am attracted to the most. I have told many of my friends about gnom-gnom.
    Great job! Thanks for sharing!
    Prayers to you in your healing.
    Debie

  22. Rhiannon says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. You truly are inspirational and your recipes are amazing! I love how you go into all the “deets” and just how you’ve written everything in such a way that makes me enjoy reading it. I appreciate all of the wonderful recipes and look forward to more! Prayers for full healing coming your way! Take care! <3

  23. Rhonda says:

    What a story!! In spite of it all, you have remained so positive and cheerful in your blog posts, that I had no idea you were in such a painful physical state! Prayers and best wishes for continued healing!!

    My family and I have enjoyed all your recipes that I’ve made so far. We had your Swedish meatballs (again!) for supper last night! Thank you for all your hard work to develop these yummy creations!!

    Rhonda

  24. Val says:

    Ahhh so glad your on the road to recovery ,love your recipes and keep doing what your doing in time you’ll be back at it ,sure hope everything works out well
    For you-take care Val

  25. Patrice says:

    Oh Paola I am preparing your swedish meatballs as we speak! You are ALWAYS on my mind for so many reasons. I knew you were fighting your way back from injury/illness & learned a few things about you along the way, even searching youtube to find a “live” motion shot of beautiful YOU. That day my heart went ahhhh, there she is, the lovely & extraordinary Paola!!

    I have shared your gnom-gnomminess with soo many during my RN career, both in nursing and also as a Clinical Nutritionist. Without a doubt your site is the creme de la creme with ALL the educational deets plus the whys & the hows. You and your site are second to NONE & I’ve researched them all. You have WOW’D me since day one!

    I’m so delighted to receive your intro and learn more about your successful, developing, but oh so tough road. You are a shining star, and you will achieve all that you desire in your beautiful life. Thank you from my heart for all that you are and all that you will become! Best wishes for continued success!

    Love from your fangirl Patrice, Texas RN Nutritionist xo

    PS: I have my favorite Paola jewelry piece saved for when I’m able to purchase for Christmas. Your talents are such a gift, thank you for sharing them! Your jewelry inspires me as much as your recipes. I cannot wait to wear it! xo

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