Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
By Jamie Lisanti
December 05, 2014

The Miami Dolphins hired the league's first full-time female team nutritionist, Mary Ellen Bingham, in its efforts to improve player health and performance, the team announced on Friday. 

Bingham joins just six other full-time team nutritionists or registered dietitians who work in the NFL and is the first woman to hold the position. Most teams bring on consultants or fill part-time positions to help with players' diet and nutrition. 

The Business of "Healthy Eating"

Bingham joins the Dolphins after more than four years as the head sports nutritionist at the University of North Carolina, where she worked closely with UNC’s varsity athletic program, providing sports nutrition education, menu planning, supplement review and individual nutrition counseling. Bingham holds a B.S. in nutrition from Boston University, where she was a member of its varsity women’s track and field team. 

The trend of monitoring diet and nutrition is becoming more and more popular, as teams such as the Carolina Panthers, and players focus on fueling with specific foods or special diets to gain an edge on the field.

Bingham earned her master’s degree in clinical nutrition from New York University and is credentialed as a registered dietitian (RD) and certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD). Prior to working at UNC, she was the campus dietitian and sports nutritionist at St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y.