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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. Veronica Lamb says:

    You’ve been through a lot! I want to thank you for all of your wonderful recipes. You’ve made my change to a low-carb lifestyle so much easier and less depressing! Wishing you continued healing and eagerly looking forward to more of your fantastic recipes!

  2. Kate says:

    Hi Paola, reading your incredible story, then all the kind and uplifting stories has brought a few tears…in this life that is overwhelmed with such negativity and sadness, I can always count on nothing but fun and girly giggles whenever I click that button! I deal with pain often too…thank you and all these wonderful fans for making a pretty lonely day a whole lot better! I wish the world could slow down, get into the kitchen and just enjoy a moment. Thanks, all of you..yay smiles! I hope you’re on a quick mend, take care of you, Paola…we will all be here cheering you on 🙂

    • My dear Kate, I’ve been all teary-eyed since yesterday too lol!! You guys just never fail to surprise me, and I’ve been beyond overwhelmed by all the love and good energy sent my way. I mean… just wow!

      Are humans beautiful or what?!

      Thank you for taking the time to write, I enjoy seeing your comments girl 🙂 big kiss!

  3. Brian says:

    Is it possible for someone to be so full of healing energy that she can’t help but overflow, almost accidentally healing others, even complete strangers thousands of miles away, just by trying to heal herself?

    I think I’ll go with “yes” on that one.

    Thanks for all the inspiration. You got something there, I think we can agree! 🙂

    • Thank you Brian, you struck deep!

      A fellow reader commented earlier how food healed me twice, first through my diet and then through the blog. And I have indeed found such bliss (and muuuch needed comfort lol!) in knowing that my keto kitchen discoveries where bringing such delectable moments for y’all 🙂

      We might complain about the internet and social media, but its ability to bring together a community of strangers (thousands of miles away, as you say) is simply unparalleled… and absolutely beautiful!


    • Reena says:

      I so fully agree with you Brian, Paola is a beautiful soul !
      Thank you” Brian, for taking the time to bless us all with your tender heart ❤

  4. Kathi says:

    Impressive young woman you are. Thanks for sharing you story and best wishes for a full and swift recovery. So glad there are folks like you helping us maintain a low-carb lifestyle we can enjoy. Good luck!

  5. Tirzah Atencio says:

    As a sports therapist, all I can share is how amazed I am every day as to how the body will heal itself given the right “environment”…inside, outside and emotionally. Sounds like you’re on the right track with all three…Kuddos!

    • THIS!!!!! It was actually my own sports therapist who very kindly told me to notice that my pain was worse on the days that my mood was low (I was seriously down for quite a few months!). I was referred to a therapist who taught me meditation in relation to pain- how its ever changing, its nothing to fear and we can control it. Then, and only then did I began to get better.

      There will be a post about this, as it applies to anything- from illness, injury to weight loss and life. Its all about the outlook.

      Thanks for sharing Tirzah!

  6. Shannon P says:

    My sweet friend, we all have something! No one is immune to life’s journey of challenges. I, too, have auto-immune issues, and a very bad back. If we lived closer, I’d have you over for a proper tea, or better yet..i’d bring to you whatever your hearts desire. I love your recipes and this site makes me feel good, always. Thank you for your story and for sharing this site with so many of us. Wrapping my arms around you, my new found friend! 🤗

    • So wise my friend, no one is immune to life’s challenges indeed. And the more I live the more I see in those around me that we all go through something (constantly). But that’s what its all about right?! Growing from challenges, accepting new realities, uplifting one another and staying present to become better humans.

      Thank you for sharing, tea would be so lovely!! 🙂

  7. Cheryl says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us – you are an inspiration. I love your recipes and you are my go to for keto recipes always!
    Wishing you the best!

  8. Dorothy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your recipes. they have helped more than you know. I wish you continued strength, healing thoughts.

  9. Jkim says:

    A full recovery and lots of positive energy to you, Paola! You have a caring support group in all of us. Your story and your courage are a real inspiration.

  10. Andrea says:

    Wow! You are filled with bravery and courage!! I cannot begin to tell you how much you’ve impacted my life through this site. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom, life, and recipes with us. I pray that the Lord would continue to heal you Paloa, you are worth far more that rubies!

  11. Paula Saleny says:

    Dear Paola, thank you so much for sharing you’re heart, as well as your gifts and talents!!
    Your recipes have been such an inspiration and a blessing in helping me better manage my autoimmune/health issues.
    Looking forward to continuing the journey here with you, in this community!❤

  12. Karen says:

    Wow!! What an inspiring story!! You have all my admiration and encouragement. Your recipes are terrific and I look forward to what you come up with next. All the best!

  13. PJB says:

    I appreciate all your recipes. I am happy to read you are recovering. Keep going. We are all rooting for your complete recovery.

  14. Carla says:

    You’re an incredible inspiration, Paola!!! Thank you for keeping up the good fight. I’ve got autoimmune issues, too. So, I can commiserate – but, I can only imagine what you’ve been through, with the sciatica immobilization you. I’m so horribly sorry you’ve had to fight so hard…

  15. Annette Pearce says:

    Oh sweet Paola! I Hope you have a full recovery sweetie. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with all of us.
    You have made such a difference to my life with all of your wonderful recipes.
    God bless you
    Cheers Annette

  16. Amy says:

    A pleasure to meet you, Paola! Thanks to you, I am healing my body with your wonderful recipes. I wish you continued success in your healing journey!

  17. Lisa Lane Libman says:

    Dear Paola!
    Thank you for sharing…so sorry you are going through this trauma. I pray you heal fully and quickly! I am a huge fan of your website and recipes. While they are more complicated than other’s, the results speak for themselves. I just made four batches of your Keto gummy bears with my grandchildren. A big hit! Thanks for your motivation with your work, and here’s a bunch of good healing energy coming your way!

  18. Janine Cobb says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have a chronic illness and similarity had been living a lactose free paleo existence for 7 years until I discovered Keto six months ago. Three months ago I had a Stroke and I’m recovering. Every gain is a blessing and food is an incredibly important part of my healing. Thank you for the recipes and the inspiration. Much love, luck and strength for your journey!

  19. Carol-Lynn Fair says:

    Paola, thank you very much for sharing your journey with us! It takes such courage to be honest and authentic about our struggles. I love your website and everything I have tried has been absolutely wonderful! Thank you very much for continuing to create and share your amazing recipes even in the midst of very difficult circumstances! I will pray for God’s healing and restoration of good health for you. 🙏✝️.

  20. Gabrielle says:

    Thank you for your vulnerability and beautiful post. It’s such a gift when someone is willing to just show up as they are, and seeing you with your sweet dog is inspirational. Sending loads of gratitude for you and healing vibes for your body!!

  21. Nikki says:

    So happy to “meet” you and thank you for sharing your story!! I’m happy to hear such a positive time in your voice and to know you are on your way to recovery!! Sending you all the love!!

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