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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. Kimberly says:

    Paola, this email was such a treat! Pun intended. Thank you for sharing your recipes and journey with us. I am so sorry for what has happened and also so thankful for your positivity. I signed up for your emails because I went mostlt keto and started cooking and baking more while healing from over a year of sciatic nerve and lower back herniation pain. Little did I know we had something similar in common! Keep doing what you love and I pray for continual healing and success for you!

  2. Petra says:

    Dear Paola,

    This Dutch girl in the Caribbean sends every positive vibe your way! May you heal completely. I want to thank you for making my own healing journey easier with your amazing tasty recipes!

    xoxo, Petra

  3. lizpat700@gmail.com says:

    Wow, what a challenge you have to go through. Thanks so much for your delicious recipes and praying you recover well. xx

  4. Chelsea says:

    Thank you for sharing! My heart goes out to you because dealing with long-term health issues can be so draining physically and emotionally. Your positive spirit makes my heart happy. I started keto a few months ago, in part to help improve my own health issues, and I’ve enjoyed your blog and your recipes immensely! I wish you all the best as you continue on the road to recovery. ❤️

  5. Judith M Henriksen says:

    Thank you Paola for your update. I too have benefited greatly from your delicious recipes. I do not like that you are having this physical/emotional difficulty and glad that you are doing better. I have recently become acquainted with Linda Forrest and her information regarding The Science Behind Miraculous Healing. If you want to check it out please review this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMK7ikMtILb4QvFGLSZGJkg
    Hoping to hear that you are fully recovered very soon.

  6. Judy says:

    Thank you, Paola! Thank you for telling your story, and for the picture.

    I’ve endured sciatica; how horrible for you.

    I’m a new low carb person. I just started in April. I think you are a low carb GODDESS! You would laugh if you saw my hubby and I saying oooh and ahh over your no church chocolate ice cream!

    I wish I knew where you were so I could send you a card. Or even come by with flowers! I live in Simi Valley, just north of the Los Angeles County line. Even though you aren’t next door, I feel this would be my chance to thank you in person.

    We will pray for your quick and complete recovery. We will add you to our nightly prayer. Please keep us posted.

  7. Lee Martin says:

    Dear Paola, thank you for sharing your personal journey. It is one of courage, patience and faith and a truly beautiful soul. My thoughts and prayers are with you for continued improvement and recovery. Lee

  8. Amanda Burk says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey! As someone with her own autoimmune and nerve issues it’s warms my heart to see you getting back on your feet!

  9. Sheri Jones says:

    Blessings now and always. Praying for your complete healing. Thank you for all you do and for sharing such amazing recipes with us.

  10. Jamie says:

    Paola – big hugs and well wishes for a quick recovery! Thanks for letting us in on your personal story as I was wondering why there was so little information about you online. No problem on your introspective desire to handle these challenges – we all understand. Needless to say, gnom-gnom is my absolute favorite # 1 website for keto/low carb/glutten free cooking techniques and recipes. It is with great anticipation that I look forward to your e-mail updates every day. I have learned so much from your website and I thank you for giving me the tools and techniques to maintain my keto lifestyle in which I have lost over 80 lbs. Because of Keto and your website, I have gone from diabetic to extremely healthy (verified through blood tests), have no inflammation or aches/pains, gotten rid of sleep apnea, virtually eliminated all anxiety, increased my energy levels, completely eliminated numerous skin issues, never get colds or sinus infections any more, and greatly increased my mental clarity and capacity. All of this was possible, in large part, due to your willingness to share your information, techniques and recipes with the world. For all of that I am extremely grateful! Heal quickly my friend – best to you and your doggie!

  11. MJ says:

    Paola…your website is my very favorite foodie site! I recommend it to others every chance I get. I too suffer from autoimmunity and I appreciate all of the creative energy you have put into developing your wonderful recipes to make people like me feel more “normal”. I am sending all of my best healing thoughts your way. Hang in there girl! You are very strong.

  12. Debbie says:

    What a life you have lived Paola!! I am praying that you have a complete recovery and that you are back on your feet soon! Thank you for the wonderful recipes!

  13. Shirley says:

    So sorry to hear about your struggles these past few years but so thankful that your doing better than before. I pray that all your journeys will continue to be up hill.
    Thank you for all the great recipes!

  14. Joanne Deocampo says:

    Thanks for this post, Paola! You’re amazing to make something so beautiful (this community and your recipes) out of such hardship. I also think sharing these kinds of stories is so important. Not only is it a good example to others, but on another note, I think so many people think that keto is just a diet for losing weight quickly. It has so many much more profound benefits, though. I have not faced the debilitation you have, but I also have an autoimmune disease, and for me, the best thing to come out of keto (5 years now) is the huge reduction in pain and pain medication. I feel so much better and take almost no pain medication, now! Thanks for your story and your delicious recipes!

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      Thank you Joanne, and I agree completely (thank you for sharing!)! You can expect a lot more content about healing on the blog soon, both through food and functional medicine 😉

  15. Deb Hoffman says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your misfortune
    I adore your recipes and photos . It’s my most favourite I live in Canada north of Toronto and you are my brilliant go to for desserts
    My daughter and I fell off the keto wagon and gained too much weight back so starting September we are going to fly right 😊So nice to meet you
    Big hugs to you and your brilliant recipes and strength

  16. Norma says:

    Paola I’m so sorry to hear all that you have been through the past year. I hope you are on the mend and back to 100% soon. Thank you for all the great info and delicious recipes!! Take care!!🙂

  17. Katia Kirilina says:

    I am so glad to know you a little better now. I hope you get to feel better and better every day. As far as your blog is concerned, it really saves me on the daily basis. I had to go Keto due to PCOS and General hormonal misbalance. Thanks to you I can eat well and I am pregnant! So, thank you for all you do and for changing my life for the better!

  18. Patricia says:

    Paola, so glad you shared just a piece of your life with us. I am so thankful that you are in the healing mode now!! I was really surprised that you were gluten free as your recipes do not note that. I have to be gluten free so I am always trying to convert the recipes over to GF. I also have to be egg free and dairy free, so that is really hard!
    Blessings for a full and complete recovery.

  19. nanaregina says:

    So happy to hear you are getting better. My husband and I have been on a keto program for about a year. Not only are your recipes delicious, they are reliable. I usually do a “trial run” before making something new, but nit with your recipes!

  20. Holly says:

    Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your journey with us! Wow! I can’t even begin to imagine what you have gone through! 😢. I’m utterly amazed at all you accomplished while you were in pain!!! Keep up the amazing work with your recipes!

  21. Ben says:

    Hi Paola,

    I’m glad you’re healing and on the road to recovery. That sounds absolutely horrible. I’ve had sciatic nerve pain from a bulging disc, and I’m sure that is a walk in the park compared to what you’ve experienced. I’ve enjoyed your recipes and will be buying your ebook today. I hope and pray you continue healing until your are completely recovered.

  22. Dianne says:

    Thank you for your story. Wishing you well. I thank you for your website. I began my new way of eating after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I have Myasthenia Gravis which was finally diagnosed in Dec’17 after many years of suffering with peripheral neuropathy. I too believe I would not be as well as I am without this way of eating. I am doing LCHF so love your recipes. Thank you so much Dianne from Australia.

  23. Diane Ridpath says:

    Thank you for sharing you journey and experiences with us. I have really enjoyed your recipes. They are my favorites. What a strong woman you are to go through what you have, and are, going through and persevering and sharing what you love. Sometimes we (meaning I) take what seems like normal everyday things, like walking, and moving, for granted. You make me realize how very lucky I am and how very much I appreciate you sharing your gift of food as you struggle through daily living. God Bless.

  24. JoAnn Mantych says:

    Wow! I never realized! So glad you are feeling better. Stay on the healing road! I love your recipes.
    Do your recipes ever take into account altitude? I’m at 5500 and some things just don’t work out, most notably breads.

  25. Marie says:

    Your recipes are unbelievably wonderful. I thank you for all the healing you have been giving while doing so quietly by yourself. I wish you continued success. I applaud your courage, strength, creativity, joy and belief in your own healing. You inspire me.

  26. Ernie says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal journey! I feel privileged to be a part of it. Gnom-gnom is my go-to for keto recipes and helps in the sense that this diet can be sustainable with deliciousness and variety. Thank you again for all the work you pour into your site to and to keep our mouths watering!

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