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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. Vivienne Moses says:

    Paolo all the very best on your healing journey. I am also on one… working on healing a chronic fatigue condition. 🙏🏼💕

  2. Janet Piombo says:

    Sending you prayers and angels to help you recover. My hope is that things only get better for you from this day on. Looking forward to your new recipes, because your recipes are my very favorite, and I use them all of the time. Thank you for all that you do, and God bless you.

  3. Sue says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I recently purchased your e-books and loving each recipe I have made so far 🙂 Good luck and take care x

  4. Katy Waugh says:

    Paola! You are an inspiration and a blessing to so many!! I absolutely LOVE what you do… I can actually “hear” your enthusiasm in your writing. It is so reassuring to know that this woe is indeed therapeutic and able to bring our wellness back to us.
    …BUT now I have a challenge for you, in the kitchen! I am currently in New Mexico, visiting my daughter. While visiting her local grocery, I found a product called “Coffee Flour,” which would qualify for the keto lifestyle. ZERO net carbs. Do you know anything about this superfood? Are there any recipes for it, like, say… cookies?? LOL!
    Blessings to you for a continued healing.

  5. MonicaLaTanya says:

    These unfortunate setbacks in life try our patience and resilience, your doing so well, be brave, I’ll send you some healing energy, keep getting stronger!

  6. Judy Whalen says:

    Paola, Wow! Thanks so much for sharing more about you and your health challenges. You are incredibly brave sharing your most personal experience with all of us. My heart tells me that may have been the purpose for the challenges. You are impacting so many people with gnom-gnom. Your story can help us as well as your delicious recipes. I love your recipes. Your recipes really help me enjoy eating healthy food. And I don’t miss the unhealthy doughnuts and bread. Thank you for being an inspiration!

  7. Gai Holley says:

    Amazing story Paola. Wishing you every success on your health journey. It is wonderful to see that big smile on your face. Love your recipes and thank you for sharing your personal story

  8. Lauren Knodle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story…hope you do make full recovery. I work as on occupational therapist and have my own health issues and understand how loss of ability can make you feel feelings of uncertainty. But thank you so much for continuing your blog, I know that’s hard work. You’re awesome!

  9. Maryanne Wiley says:

    So glad you are on the mend. Best wishes and thank you for the delicious recipes for Keto. I’m always looking for something to keep me interested.

  10. Patti says:

    Paola, I feel like I know you from your wonderful website and recipes! And now that I really know what you’re going through, I’m absolutely amazed and impressed with your grit, determination and wonderful attitude. You GO GIRL!!! I thank you profusely for your excellent recipes and commitment!
    I’d like to share some resources for you regarding chronic pain. Check out Dr. Jonathan Kuttner’s Life After Pain book and website. Also, a recent docuseries called “Pain Revealed” was enormously helpful in understanding many new and intriguing strategies and remedies for pain. I’m sure you can still purchase the series (it aired for free a few weeks ago.) I’ll keep you in my prayers; sending healing vibes your way!!!

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      My dear Patti I enjoy your comments so very much! Thank you for being such a loyal reader (and dare-I-say friend!).

      I’m checking out your recommendation as we speak- and from what I’m seeing he also talks about the psychosomatic component to chronic pain. A sports therapist mentioned this in another comment, the body can do extraordinary healing in the right setting. Our emotions and outlook are oh so important!

      Big kiss always friend, much love right back!

  11. Mimilee says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this personal story. You are such an inspiration! Your recipes have made my keto journey so much easier! I appreciate them even more now!! So glad to hear you are feeling better!

    Best wishes from Florida!

  12. MJ says:

    Just wow Paola! You must be part bionic woman! Stay strong and continue to heal and gain more strength. You can do this. We are all here to support you on your journey. Thank you so much for your wonderful keto recipes. I truly enjoy gnom-gnom.com.

  13. Janice Gwin says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. My prayers will be with you daily and happy cooking, when you feel like it! 👍🏻🤗🙏🏼

  14. Mij Shippen says:

    I trust your recipes. They are the only ones that explain the intricacies of using the various sweetners. And what will happen IF we use one or the other. Thank you for sharing with thoroughness the consequences of each step taken.
    You save me so much time and money by doing the trial and error steps yourself and (for heavens sakes!!) writing the steps down to share.
    It’s a wonderful sharing on your part to benefit the many!
    Rising above and using your pain to launch those gorgeous recipes has been a great undertaking. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  15. Marcelle says:

    You are a force to be reckoned with, girl! And an example of perseverance to anyone who has followed you. I’ve been a fan for a while now (you even have a separate folder on my Yummly account!) Your blog is usually my first stop when looking for any keto recipe and you are an inspiration! Keep up the great work and I am confident you will be back to your pre-injury self sooner than you think!

  16. Krista D says:

    I am fairly new to keto but love your website. I truly hope you are on the road to recovery and wish you all the best and thank you immensely for your website.

  17. Jan arterburn says:

    We are so lucky to have found you! We appreciate all of your work that we certainly take for granted. You’ve been through so much and your attitude is amazing!! You are an inspiration❤️. Best of everything to you!

  18. julie young says:

    Good for you a long way back but you are here and I thank you for all of your efforts. Your recipes saved me from a lot of confusion and gave me much needed inspiration on my low carb and sugar free journey.
    So let us journey on as you increase your strength and health.

  19. Lori Sautter says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! I too suffer from chronic pain and Im hoping keto will help me with that. I love gnom gnom and I think your fabulous. Never give up, never give in.

  20. AngIe says:

    I have been keto for a little over a year, successfully addressing blood sugar issues. I have found your blog to be deliciously inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Marjorie Carrie says:

    Since you are into alternative treatments, I thought I should tell you about the solution to my husband’s non diabetic peripheral neuropathy. We tried everything extensive expensive testing, B12 injections(thank goodness with no problem) going gluten free, foot massager, creams all with no results. Well my husband does love the gluten free bread I developed for him. My sister was on a group tour of Ireland when two women independently mentioned they used magnesium taurate for their neuropathy. We bought pure magnesium taurate powder and my husband is 90 % improved.

  22. Janie Kay Frank says:

    Prayers for your speedy full recovery. I have back problems & Osteoarthritis that keeps me from cooking as much as I’d love to. I found your site when I was searching for Keto recipes and I just love everything about your site. You’re so creative & knowledgeable about the science of baking. Only person I’ve found that can make yeast actually work to make almond flour rise!! I tell everyone looking for healthy & low carb recipes about your site. Thank you for sharing your creative genius with us. 😍

  23. Bettye says:

    Hi Paola, thank you for sharing. Was not aware of your health struggles. You show a lot courage and strength ( God given I’m sure!) Love all your great recipes and have tried many of them; trying to stick to a keto diet. Keep up the great work. God bless!!
    I’m already a subscriber to your site.

  24. Pea Green says:

    Sending you so much love, Paola, for the wonderful gal that you are, the way you have helped so many of us on our keto and healing journeys, the brightness that each new email and delectable recipe brings to us and for your bravery in the face of such uncertainty. x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x multiplied by a thousand!!

  25. Tricia Hynes says:

    Thank you fir telling us about your healing journey. Sending good thoughts your way for complete recovery from your injury.
    I LOVE your recipes! They have made keto so much more enjoyable for me.

  26. Kathy says:

    I hope you’re ok! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Take extra special care of yourself. PS – your blog is my absolute favourite! Big hug x

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