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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. Ann says:

    Paola, on this Christmas day, just want you to know what a gift your website has been to me. For a Person with type 1 Diabetes (PWD) and other health issues that require low-carb, gluten-free, and dairy-free eating, you have brought joy back to the kitchen. Thank you. I hope that life has been more gentle with you since your post above.

    • Dear Ann, thank you for taking the time to write such a beautiful comment (nonetheless on Christmas Day!). What a gift.

      It’s been both incredibly satisfying and tough… but I’m back on my feet 100% and incredibly grateful for that opportunity. Very much looking forward to getting back to cooking with y’all this year 🙂 Big hug!

  2. Laurel says:

    B12 shot damaged your nerve? Wow, how crazy. Who would have thought that could happen? I give myself B12 shots every 2 weeks (but into stomach). I’ve had idiopathic (unexplained) neuropathy for several years. NO ONE can figure it out. I’ve been hoping that taking the B12, iron and methylfolate would fix me up. Also, there’s a theory that you can get “diabetic” neuropathy way before you’re officially diabetic which could be my case. I tried going gluten free (2 years) but that didn’t help. I’m glad you’re doing better! You’re too young to have such trouble. You should be enjoying life and I’m sure you will be doing all sorts of activities soon. Love your recipes!

    • Lonna says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about the circumstance that brought you here, but so appreciate your story and all of the wonderful recipes you have created. Your story is frightening to me. Especially since having gone through several years of fertility medication – multiple times daily injections from my husband or anyone else around me for 3 years. I’m sure that I have nerve damage all around my lower back, but had no idea that what you described was possible. Thank you for providing awareness.

      I just happened to stumble on your site from a search for keto marshmallows and am thrilled with what I see. I have been on keto on an off. Off due to lack of discipline, but feel so much better being free from sugar and gluten. I do miss bread and can’t wait to try your recipes!!!

      I pray for your continued healing and full mobility, in Jesus name. <3

  3. George says:

    So happy for you that you have turned the corner and are back on your feet. I don’t know you but I can see your smile in the side by side pictures, and tell that you have endured the worst but now feeling better.

  4. melanie brown says:

    wow, you are amazing…..with adversity comes opportunity and you sure seized it. Wishing you an ongoing recovery.

  5. Jaime Takikawa says:

    I am so glad you are on your feet again. And I can totally relate to your story as I’ve had something similar happen to me many years ago. I want to also thank you for the amazing Keto recipes. My wife and I absolutely love everything we’ve made from your blog/website.

  6. Kelli Fox says:

    Hi Paola, thank you for sharing your story! It is truly inspiring. Last year we had Jupiter in Sagittarius which rules the liver, hips, thighs and sciatic nerve so injuries to these parts of the body are not uncommon with this influence (I tore my hamstring last year). Anyway, I love your web site and I hope you will continue to share your amazing recipes while your health gets better and better. 🙂

  7. Karen says:

    Hi Poala, I’m just reading your very personal story of your medical journey. I had no I idea how much you were suffering. I would have never known because your website is so creative and inspiring, so I was surprised to learn about your struggles. As a nurse I understand about proper and improper ways to administer intramuscular injections and was horrified that this ever happened to you. I’m so happy that you are on the mend.
    Forever a revered fan of your food creations,

  8. Sharon says:

    Congratulations, Paola! I love your blog and have made a few of your recipes, which are always well done and delicious! The Keto lifestyle would be a bit boring without your help. Keep up the good work – both personally and with your cooking. All I can say is, “Gnom Gnom and thank you very much!”

  9. Danyell Wallet says:

    Amazing! You know, yours was the first Keto cookbook (e book) that I purchased? Seeing a way to enjoy Cinnamon Toast Crunch (2.0) was for me such a wonderful gift as every time I ate the original: 1. I ate a mixing bowl full (no lie) and 2. I always, ALWAYS walked away feeling guilty🙋🏾‍♀️<—type 2 diabetic here. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. I fell in love with your recipes (did a jig when we made the Cocoa Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch), and sooo glad that I got to “meet” you.

  10. Merche Benson says:

    You inspire me Paola. I tell people I’m on a Cheeto diet. I just can’t seem to keep the calories really low, but I use a lot of your recipes. They are bloody great. Thank you.

  11. Lori says:

    I bought your cookbooks, printed them out and have been enjoying them for the past year. I also have an autoimmune disease as well as Lyme disease and other co-infections. Your recipes have been a real lifesaver for me. It’s so wonderful to be able to eat comfort food without cheating on this life-sustaining diet.

  12. Carolyn Alfonso says:

    Only the best, Paola, you have inspired me time after time with your creative, healthy approach to cooking. So glad you shared your good news. Thank you.☄

  13. Anne-Marie Cox says:

    Hi there Paola! Greetings from the UK! Both my sister and I have reactive hypoglycaemia so sugar and gluten are off the menus! Finding your website was a revelation. The Spectloos biscuits and Ameretti went down a treat, candied pecans were also enjoyed. I wish you all the best with your recovery.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Maybe this is why I love your recipes! Similar background in some ways. I was born and raised in Mexico. Of Dutch Mennonite ancestry. So my taste buds were developed around a similar variety of flavours.

  15. Tonoa says:

    Thank you for sharing your (very) personal story! It gives me and I am sure many out there a shining light to hope for. Your recipes are amazing! My family has had to go Keto due to many health issues. You have made that possible with these recipes.

  16. Annita Mossop says:

    I am so glad that you are recovering. I am trying to gain back my confidence and loose weight by following the keto path. In 2019 I lost 50lbs, I aim to loose another 40 in 2020. I love your site and recipes, You are an inspiration. Thank you.

  17. Lisa says:

    Dear Paola, thank you SO much for your amazing recipes. I recommend your site and emails to everyone who comments on my food plan or cooking. I send you the best for the new year and hope your recovery progresses quickly and thoroughly. Thank you for all you do to support the keto lifestyle.


  18. Susie says:

    Paola, you are such an inspiration to me. You are brave and tough, and incredibly talented. Thank you for sharing your wonderful food ideas with the world. I send people to your website every week. Every one of your recipes hat I’ve tried have been delicious. Blessings to you as you continue to heal.

  19. Tonia says:

    Paula- thank you for sharing your amazing story. Your attitude is fabulous although up and downs are part of being human. You are in inspiration and i see great things in your future. I am sure you get tons of advice. I have thyroid disease and as you know one autoimmune makes you more predisposed to another. Another thyroid friend recommended Amy Myers MD protocol. Is is a 30 healing diet to heal your body. It is gluten free and more that you are already doing. I just wanted to spread the word. My medical doctor was excited i was doing it and said her protocol works. Whatever you decide good luck in everything. Wishing you good health!!

  20. Kevin Malmberg says:

    You are a remarkable person!!! Thank you so much for your sharing of really delicious keto recipes. I look forward to your emails. God bless you in the new year.❤️🙏

  21. McMarmee says:

    I just found your blog after Christmas 2019. Six months ago I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic at age 69. I made a deal with my doctor to change my diet for 3 months before a follow up A1C check and had lowered it by .3. Now I am on a mission to regain my health in many ways. Mexican, or Tex-Mex food is important to me so your site popped up in many searches. I pray that your body is totally healed of all nerve injury and auto-immune disease.

  22. Shereen de Rousseau says:

    Sending you best wishes for your recovery journey. I use your recipes a lot! You’ve helped me a lot getting my own yo-yo dieting obsession under control. Low carb is my new normal and I couldn’t have got through without your recipes.
    Thanks Paola.

  23. Renee says:

    I’m glad you’re recovering!

    I am thankful for finding your site as I am diabetic and my husband is gluten sensitive. Your recipes will certainly be a Godsend for us; we’re struggling with meal ideas.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  24. Silvia says:

    Thank you Paola for sharing such a great recipes. My son was diagnosed, a year ago ,with Type 1 diabetes, and when I fond your website felt sooo happy. He can still enjoying delicious desserts, snacks and food . Thank you, thank you 🙏🏼 🙏🏼

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