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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. Paulette Scheffer says:

    Aloha Paola,
    Wow, what an inspiration you are…not only for the fight you are enduring, but putting yourself out there so intimately and publicly can be scary. My family LOVES your recipes and you are my number one go to for keto. I also have a debilitating health condition that led me to keto (it’s given me my life back) so I consider you one of my most important health team members. To know you are dealing with all you are in terms of your health and getting back to creating recipes is impressive. Take care of yourself and I wish you all the best in your healing journey!

  2. Celina Cobb says:

    Reading that made me cry – so happy for your progress on this journey, thank you for sharing and KEEP GOING! 🙂

  3. Dixie Brienza says:

    Hi! I am so glad to meet you, and I am sorry that you have had to make this difficult trek. I have had upper neuropathy in my left and right extremities for the last 2-1/2 years. It just gradually got worse until I could not raise my left arm without lifting it with my right arm. I just had a cervical spine fusion three months ago, and happily, I am doing much better. I have Hashimoto’s and am post-menopausal. LC and Keto has helped me tremendously. I am happy that you are doing better, and thank you for all your recipes! I love the cinnamon rolls – once I found those, I was hooked! Good luck and continued healing.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Beautiful post – beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing and for the reminder of what there is to be grateful for, from one auto-immuney to another! Eden Energy and EFT have really been a miracle for my mind body and soul – check out the YouTube videos. When you find the good ones, you’ll know. Much love!

  5. Barbara says:

    Paola, Thanks for sharing ‘you’ with us. I’ll be praying for continued healing and hope you stay strong. I love your recipes.

  6. BJ says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is helpful and inspires me. I enjoy reading your recipes and have tried many to date and look forward to more.
    Keep smiling girl

  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!

    • Shelley says:

      I’ve been so blessed with your recipes and I know many are. Thank you so much for that and thank you for sharing your story! It’s so nice to get to see who has gifted us. I hope that you fully recover ASAP!

  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!

    • Retha says:

      Thank you Ethan. I’m not Paola, but I appreciate the recommendation. I too suffer from chronic back pain and I’m ready for a little relief.

  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!

    • Paola van der Hulst says:

      Thank you Ginger! And lol yes… I see that in my encounters with friends (and people in general!), nothing like a pending disability to set priorities straight 😉 big kiss!

      • JeannieB says:

        It’s lovely to hear your story Paola and the positivity you put into your posts is as amazing as the food you help us produce. Like you, I have been gluten free for years, but moving to a keto lifestyle has reduced my blood pressure and given me sustained weight loss. My husband will shortly be starting with more cancer drugs and I have encouraged him to move to keto to prepare his body in readiness and, with the help of your lovely recipies, he’s losing weight, lowering his blood pressure and blood sugar (type 2 diabetes), and generally feeling pretty good.

        Thank you for all you do. You have by far the best selection of ‘real recipies out there. I hope you continue to improve in health and wish you all the best with your own personal 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!!

  22. Kerstin Kobetitsch says:

    It is amazing that you have the strength to do what you do. Cooking, creating and being so concise with all your recipes and tips while in pain and healing is an enormous task, both mentally and psychically.
    And on top of that, responding to people’s questions and comments is nothing but inspiring.
    I wish you well and all the healing powers one could wish for someone else!!

    Huge fan!!!!!! 😑

  23. JT says:

    May God continue to give you the strength & courage through your journey of healing. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story 🙏🏼

    And thank you sooo much for all the wonderful recipes you provide us, especially your desserts!

  24. aimee hart says:

    You are amazing- thank you for sharing you and your recipes! Sending healing energy and loving thoughts your way!

  25. Judy says:

    Ánimo, estimada Paola. Pensando en ti, orando por ti, y mandandote energía positiva. Admiro que hayas compartido esto con nosotros. Sending you a big hug.

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