Whole Girl: Live vibrantly, love your entire self, and make friends with food

By Sadie Radinsky

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Whole Girl: Live vibrantly, love your entire self, and make friends with food
PHOTO BY KELLY RADINSKY Sadie Radinsky, First-time author at 19
By Sadie Radinsky Reviewed by Flavia Potenza At 19, Sadie Radinsky is setting a standard for all women but especially for young women and has been since she was 12. Now, she has published her first book, “Whole Girl: Live vibrantly, love your entire self, and make friends with food” (Sounds True 2021), where, starting with her introduction, “We Are All Whole,” she doesn’t flinch from looking at the dark side of being female: “Young women are powerful…. We are full of possibility,” she writes, then continues: “The messages [for women] are relentless: You’re not enough. You’re too much. Be quiet. Don’t make waves. Smile. Don’t eat too much. Don’t be so emotional.” As serious as stating the obvious may be to start with, her first book is engaging, encouraging, and upbeat: “In this book, we are going to embrace our whole selves—every part of us—just as we are,” she writes. The journey that brought her to this part of her life began when she was nine years old. She had developed symptoms of nausea, stomachaches, and fatigue that wouldn’t go away and no one, not even doctors, could diagnose it. Worse, when doctors were asked if food might play a role, or if gluten could be a problem, “every one of them said no. I went completely off gluten anyway…, and within two months, all my symptoms were gone.” She started by “experimenting with different ways of eating. Now I had more energy than ever before.” But one thing was missing: desserts. Gluten-free treats weren’t readily available in stores, so she started inventing her own, rushing home after school and into the kitchen. “Baking grain-free desserts became my obsession.” At 12, she posted her recipes on a blog called “Whole Girl,” that developed an international following, with people saying her recipes had helped them and shared their stories.
“I was amazed and inspired,” she writes.

There is a world of discovery in this seminal work of a Topanga teenager, talented in so many ways and at so many levels. It is about the recipes, of course—they are delightful, delicious, and decadent in the best sense of the word. But she goes further by redirecting the power of emotions, “to rediscover our turbo-charged emotions and use them as rocket fuel to power all the different parts of our lives.”

Each chapter connects with a different mood, followed by a Q&A. Mindful Movement is another tool to “approach exercise with the goal of honoring our bodies.” Then, there is the shame of eating; “Eating is something we must do to survive and is also the most awesome way to connect with friends and family…. We need to turn this insanity around.”

Finally—and timely for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on March 8—Radinsky offers “A Note on Gender”:

“…Humankind includes a broad spectrum of gender identities, and the issues I address in this book may apply to all different people, not just those who identify as ‘girls.’ I hope everyone feels welcome and can benefit from these chapters. I’m thrilled to share my experiences, stories, and insights—not to mention some insane treats!’
This book took me far beyond the words in it. There is such kindness in the philosophy underlying the instructions, whether for a recipe or a movement. I savored the ideas as much as I will the desserts.

The design of “Whole Girl” is also a feast for the eyes with photographs by Sadie’s mother, Kelly Radinsky (Sadie demonstrating Lion’s Breath), and the illustrations by Sofia Szamosi captured the universality of female energy. The design and organization of content, resources and notes makes it highly readable…and fun.

Can’t wait to see more from this young woman, whatever she chooses to do.

Sadie Radinsky is a freshman at UC Berkeley and author of “Whole Girl.” Since age 12, she has touched the lives of girls and women worldwide with her award-winning website wholegirl.com, where she shares Paleo treat recipes and advice for living an empowered life. She has published articles and recipes in national magazines and other platforms, including Paleo, Shape, Justine, MindBodyGreen, and “The Primal Kitchen Cookbook.”

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March 5, 2021

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