Sunida Infahsaeng MS, RDN, CDN
Sunida is a board member for the CT Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She currently is the Treasurer Elect and has also been the Awards Chair.
What inspired you to become a RDN?
I grew up in a home where food was treated like medicine, and it was what brought our family together. My family is from Thailand, and food culture is very much a part of who we are. When I discovered that I could teach others how to make this connection to improve their health, and that there was a science behind it, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.
Where do you work now and where have you worked in the past?
I am currently the Senior Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Hartford Hospital. Prior to this role, I was the Clinical Nutrition Manager at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. I also serve as adjunct faculty at the University of New Haven. Earlier in my career, I worked as a Clinical Dietitian in acute care, outpatient oncology and behavioral health.
What is your favorite recipe/food?
My favorite Thai dish to make is Yum Woon Sen, a glass noodle dish that uses ground chicken, lots of lime juice, fish sauce and cilantro.
A close second is my Chicken Marsala, it’s so easy to make and loaded with healthy mushrooms.
How is food related to your culture?
In Thai culture, food is how we welcome people into our homes. In fact, a very common greeting is “Gin Khao yung?”, which translates into, “Have you eaten yet?”. Most Thai dishes have a balance of 5 flavors, sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and umami. Each of the ingredients used serve a purpose, by enhancing the taste of the dish, but also allowing us to use traditional cultural ingredients. These include herbs and rhizomes like lemongrass, cilantro, ginger, and galangal, as well as citrus, chili peppers and Thai cuisines dominant ingredient, fish sauce. This is made from fermented anchovies and provide the umami flavor in all savory dishes.
What is your #1 tip for improving one’s diet?
I prefer to focus on what can be included as opposed to what should be eliminated. I like to encourage people to identify 5 healthy foods they like but don’t eat enough of, and to incorporate these into their daily routines. Maybe these foods can be combined to create a recipe or can be eaten on their own.
What is one item that is always in your pantry?
Salsa Verde, I use it on eggs, rice, protein, there are so many applications.
What is your go -to exercise routine?
I enjoy exercise that also let’s me connect with others. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been walking on the weekends with my neighbor friends, we do a 3-mile loop around our neighborhood. This gives us the opportunity to catch up on each other’s lives and to get movement in.
If stranded on island-what one food or beverage you would want an unlimited supply of?
What is the best part of your job?
I love being able to help others develop their skills as leaders. I have a team of 14 managers and supervisors all with varying degrees of experience. Each day is an opportunity to coach and mentor others.
What inspired you to serve on the CT Academy board?
I’ve been fortunate to have many wonderful career opportunities in my life that have allowed me to develop an array of skills. What the CT Academy provides to members (and non-members) is valuable and I wanted to be a part of that, and to put my skills to greater use.
Where do you want to see the RDN/NDTR profession in 10 years?
We have made so much progress over the 15+ years I have been an RD, and I think that what we need to continue to strive for is access and coverage for our communities. I would like to see systemic change in accessibility to nutrition that focuses on prevention rather than disease management. Insurance companies, including government funded plans, that incentivizes members to participate in healthy behaviors and reduction of disease risk factors as a standard. As RDN/NDTRs, we should be at the forefront of building these systems and providing care.
Anything else you would like to add?
Nothing I can think of.