AE 459 – Expression: Have Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you to use the expression to HAVE EYES BIGGER THAN YOUR STOMACH like a native speaker.

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AE 459 – Expression: Have Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach

G’day, guys! What is going on? Welcome to this episode of the Aussie English Podcast.

I hope that you mob are going great. I hope you’ve had an amazing week and that it has also been an amazing weekend.

So, that intro to day was the sound of a male koala making a mating call, and it comes from a clip from Taronga Zoo on Youtube. This will be linked in the transcript. If you guys want to check out a lot of Australian wildlife, definitely go and check out Taronga Zoo in Sydney.

I remember hearing this for the first time when I was camping as a kid. I can’t remember where we were, but it was probably in the Dandenongs or somewhere on the Great Dividing Range in Victoria or New South Wales, somewhere like that, and I remember waking up in the middle of the night and hearing this bloodcurdling kind of rumble or scream, the one that you just heard, and thinking, “Oh my god! What animal is this? Is a pig? Is it some kind of, you know… is it a wolf? Is it a bear? Is it some kind of predator coming to get me?”. I was, you know, seven or eight years old. And then my dad woke up and he told me, “No, that’s a koala, mate. That is the sound a male koala makes when it’s looking for a female with whom to mate.”.

So, there you go, guys. Hopefully, that will save a few of you from being scared shitless when you guys come to Australia, go camping, and may find yourselves in the middle of the night being woken up to that sound.

Anyway guys, welcome to the Aussie English Podcast. This is the number one podcast for anyone learning Australian English or English in general. It’s designed to take you from intermediate to advanced. I speak naturally like a native speaker. I don’t slow things down, and yeah, I try to teach you vocab, expressions, all the kinds of English that I would use on a day to day basis when I speak English.

So, the Aussie English podcast, guys, is brought to you by the Aussie English Classroom. This is a website. It’s an online learning classroom where you guys get access to now dozens of online courses related to these episodes. So, you’ll learn the vocab from these episodes, you’ll get listening comprehension quizzes that you can go through to test your listening comprehension skills, and then you’ll also learn things like the more advanced vocab, the pronunciation, and intonation, connected speech, all those things out of the listen and repeat exercise, and then also expressions that I use in these episodes. So, I tend to make those into videos at the moment, each about 10 minutes. You get several of those each week in a new course. So, if your goal is to take your English to the next level, I definitely recommend signing up at It’s just one dollar for your first month. So, get in there and give it a go.

And don’t forget, too, guys, if you want the transcript and the MP3 for this episode make sure that you jump over to the website of and you can sign up there to get access to those every single week.

Anyway, let’s get into the content today, guys. So, this joke. Today’s joke is related to stomachs, bellies, tummies. I wanted to tie it in with the expression for today. So, the joke is:

What did the policeman say to his tummy? What did the policeman say to his tummy? I’ve got you “under a vest”.

Another good one, guys. Another good one. I’ve got you “under a vest”. So, the joke here is, obviously, with “I’ve got you “under arrest””, but policemen tend to wear things like bullet-proof vests, and the tummy, the stomach, the belly is found obviously under a vest if you’re wearing a vest. So, that’s the joke there. Police often say, “I’ve got you under arrest”, and in this case, they’re wearing a vest and their tummy is “under a vest”. The jokes just keep on killing.

So, today’s expression, guys. Today’s expression is “to have eyes bigger than your stomach”. “To have eyes bigger than your stomach”. You might also hear this is “bigger than your belly”, “bigger than your tummy”. That doesn’t really matter too much, but it’s often “to have eyes bigger than your stomach”.

Now, this one has suggested by my fiancée say in the private Facebook group for all the Aussie English Classroom members, although, Kel, to be honest, you kept suggesting expressions that I had already done and I suggested this expression that she then put forth as her suggestion, and I’m making quotation marks with my fingers, because it was really my suggestion, and this one won. So, I guess we’ll call this 50/50 Kel. We both won this one and there’s been a bit of rivalry recently where Kel keeps putting forward expressions that she wants me to do, but no one votes on them and everyone else gets their expressions in. So, anyway. If you want to be involved in that, guys, join up to the English Classroom and I’ll put you in the private Facebook group.

As usual, let’s go through the different words in this expression. We’ll define those, we’ll then go through the expression definition, a little bit about its origin, I’ll give you some examples of how to use this expression in day to day life, some situational examples, we’ll worth a little listen and repeat exercise, guys, for you to practice your pronunciation, and then I’m going to go through Aussie facts about the Koala. Okay. So, today’s Aussie fact will be about the koala.

So, let’s get into today’s definitions for this expression or the words in this expression.

Alright so, “to have”. I’m sure you guys know “to have”. To possess or to own something. I have two arms and two legs. I have a car. Okay? To possess or to own something.

“An eye”. “An eye” is one of the two organs you have in your head that allow you to see, to look at things, to watch things. They give you the sense that is vision. “An eye” or “two eyes”.

“Bigger than something”. If you are “bigger than something”, you are larger than something, you are of increased size compared to that things. So, “bigger than something”, larger than something. Smaller than something is the opposite there.

“A stomach”. “A stomach” can be a few different things, but in this sense, it is the organ inside your body that begins the digestive process, right? If you swallow some water, if you eat some food, that ends up in your stomach. Okay? The organ “the stomach”, which is the one that is being used here in the expression “to have eyes bigger than your stomach”.

However, your stomach can also be your tummy, your belly. So, that part of your body on the… I guess, on the outside, sort of on the inside, but it’s like between your hips and your ribs on your body. That’s also your stomach. Okay? You can refer to that. You know, you might go to the doctor and he might say, “Give me a look at your stomach. Pull the shirt up and I’ll have a listen to your digestion, you know, using whatever it is, that little device that they use. Show me your stomach.”.

Alright, so the expression “to have eyes bigger than your stomach”. What is the definition? What on earth does this expression mean? Have you guys heard this one before? Does it ring a bell? Have you ever heard this expression? “To have eyes bigger than your stomach” is a way, if we want to use this literally, to talk about people who put too much food on their plate that they can’t eat. Okay? So, their eyes have obviously overestimated how much food that their stomach can take, that can be put into their stomach. So, if you see something delicious on a plate and you put a lot of it on there, more than you’ll ever be able to eat, your eyes are too big for your stomach, obviously, because your eyes have assumed that they can get something incredibly large that your stomach can’t fit in it.

But it can also mean to be greedy, right? If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you are a greedy person, you want more than you’ll ever actually consume or use.

But then, figuratively, we can use this expression, “to have eyes bigger than your stomach” to mean that you have attempted to do something, you’ve tried to carry something out, you know, a task, a course of action, something, you’ve tried to do it, but it was too much, it was too large, it was too ambitious for you to accomplish. Okay? So, “to have eyes bigger than your stomach”, you tried to do something, but it was too ambitious. You couldn’t actually complete that thing. You overestimated your ability to do that.

So, the origin of this expression. I’m not 100 percent sure where it originally came from, though, I did do a little bit of digging online, and I found that an essay from the 1600s, Montaigne’s essay “Of the Cannibals”, which was published in 1580, but translated into English in 1603, used this expression metaphorically about things other than food. And it was translated to state:

I’m afraid our eyes are bigger than our bellies and that we have more curiosity and capacity for we grasp at all but catch nothing but wind.

Does that make sense? So, I’m afraid our eyes are bigger than our bellies and that our curiosity, we have more of our curiosity than capacity, than the ability to do something. And that which we grasp at, we grasp at everything, but the only thing we actually catch, we get in our hands, is air, is wind, is nothing. Okay?

So, let’s go through three examples, guys, of how I would use the expression “to have eyes bigger than your stomach”.

So, example number one. Okay? And this is the literal example. Imagine that you have gone to a hotel, you’re staying there, you have arrived, you’ve unpacked your bags, you’ve gotten settled in the hotel room, and you’ve gone downstairs, because it’s dinner time and there is an all-you-can-eat buffet so you can… you know, you pay your fee and you can eat as much as you would like. It’s a self-serve buffet. You have to serve yourself. So, the food looks amazing, you want to try everything, you pick up a plate, you get your knife and fork, and you go along the little, I don’t know what it would be like a walkway where you can go to each dish and put a bit on your plate. You fill your plate entirely. This thing is overflowing with food. You sit down, you start eating, but you quickly realise that your eyes were bigger than your stomach, because you put way too much food on your plate then you could actually fit in your stomach. Right? Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

Example number two. Alright, this time you are at work. Maybe you’re the manager of a team, you know, maybe you’re an engineer and you manage a team of engineers who have to build a structure like a bridge or a building or a wall or a dam, some kind of structure. If you take on a project and it turns out to be incredibly big, way bigger than you originally thought that your team could complete and successfully finish this thing on its own, it’s obvious that your eyes were bigger than your stomach. You tried to take on more than you could do. You overestimated what you could actually achieve. And so, your eyes were bigger than your stomach and in order to finish this project, you have to get outside help.

Example number three. Alright, this time imagine that you are a cage fighter, someone who fights in the UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, in a sport known as Mixed Martial Arts or MMA. Okay? So, this time imagine you are Conor McGregor. Some of you guys might know of Conor McGregor from the UFC. So, I imagine you’re this guy fighting. He took on a fight a few years ago, I think, a year or two ago with a guy called Nate Diaz. This wasn’t long ago. Conor McGregor fought Nate Diaz. And in their first fight, Connor had sort of challenged this guy, but the guy was 5-10 kilos heavier. I think he was one or two weight divisions above Conor McGregor. So, Nate Diaz refused to drop the weight to get to Conor McGregor’s weight division. So, Conor just had to fight him at his natural weight if he wanted to challenge him. He didn’t really have anything to lose. Obviously, he could lose the fight, but if he won the fight, it would be a huge, you know, bragging right of his, because he would have beaten someone a lot bigger than him. However, the first fight didn’t go this way. He ended up getting choked out. So, Nate Diaz put a stranglehold on Conor McGregor, around the neck, and Connor had to tap to say, “I give up. You’ve won!”, and Nate Diaz won the fight. So, obviously, we could say here that Conor McGregor’s eyes were bigger than his stomach. He was very arrogant and thought he could achieve a lot more than he could in reality at this time. He expected to win, but he lost. His eyes were definitely much bigger than his stomach was.

So, hopefully now you understand the expression, guys. Literally, it would be to put too much food on your plate, more than you could actually eat, hence having eyes larger than your stomach. Something that was so delicious, so appealing, you took a bigger portion than you could ever finish. Okay? So, to be pretty greedy.

Figuratively, though, it’s to attempt to do something that is too much, too large, and you can’t accomplish it. Okay? To overestimate what you can achieve. It was too ambitious.

So, let’s go through the listen and repeat exercise, guys, and then we’ll go through the fact about koalas and we will finish up.

So, this this exercise is there to help you practice your pronunciation, guys. Let’s go. Listen repeat after me and practice your English accent. Alright.


To have

To have eyes

To have eyes bigger

To have eyes bigger than

To have eyes bigger than your

To have eyes bigger than your stomach x 5

I had eyes bigger than my stomach

You had eyes bigger than your stomach

He had eyes bigger than his stomach

She had eyes bigger than her stomach

We had eyes bigger than our stomachs

They had eyes bigger than their stomachs

It had eyes bigger than its stomach

Good job, guys. Good job. I really recommend doing these exercises. One, because it will help you work on your pronunciation, which is always important. You know, it doesn’t matter how advanced you get, it’s the kind of thing that you just need to keep practicing, you know, you can’t train to run a marathon, and then never train again and be able to run a marathon any time in the future.

Also, it’s really good because it teaches you to practice grammar passively. You don’t have to focus on it, right? If I say, “I had eyes bigger than my stomach”, “you had eyes bigger than your stomach”, not only are you practicing your pronunciation, but your conjugating the verb “to have” into the past here, “I had”, and you’re also matching up different pronouns, “I” and “my”, “you” and “your”, “he” and “his”. It may seem that it’s pretty simple stuff, but it’s always good to just keep practicing this stuff so that it becomes intuitive and you don’t have to think about it.

So, guys, remember too, if you would like to go more into depth with the pronunciation here in today’s exercise as well as all the previous episodes, if you guys are really trying to nail that Australian English accent or just improve your English accent in general and you want to understand connected speech, pronunciation, intonation, rhythm, all of that sort of stuff, there will be a detailed 10-minute video for this episode and all the previous ones in the Aussie English Classroom. So, make sure that you sign up and give that a go, guys.

Anyway, let’s get into the Aussie English fact for the day. And as I mentioned earlier, this one is all about koalas. How did I think about koalas? What did koala’s have to do with the expression “to have eyes bigger than your stomach”? So, I was sitting there when I was thinking about this expression and I was like, “Okay, stomachs, Australia, Australian animals, stomachs, stomachs, ah! Koalas! They have a crazy digestive system in their stomach, right? In their stomach.”.

So, that’s how I came across this or I made this connection. I used to be a biology student at university, and when I was doing undergrad, I can remember dissecting a dead koala. So, this koala had been road kill. I think it’d… it obviously crossed a road, unfortunately, as a car or a truck was hurtling down the road and they couldn’t stop in time, killing the koala. And so, fortunately, for us, unfortunately, for the koala, the biologist who was running the class found this thing on the road and we were able to dissect it and examine its insides, which is a little morbid, a little macabre, but it is what biology students need to do to learn about these animals.

Anyway, we got to see how crazy its digestive tract was. This is the… everything from the mouth to the anus is the digestive tract. Okay? Your oesophagus, your stomach, your intestines, all the way to the anus. Everything that the food goes through.

So, anyway, I know today’s going to be biology heavy, but bear with me, it’s interesting stuff, guys.

So, koalas have a highly advanced digestive system as compared with other mammals and herbivores specifically, which is specifically adapted to detoxifying the poisonous chemicals in eucalyptus leaves. So, the toxins in these leaves from gum trees, eucalyptus leaves, they’re produced by gum trees in order to protect the trees from being eaten, obviously, by leaf-eating animals like insects, and obviously koalas.

So, these trees grow in all different kinds of places all over Australia in many different types of soils and it seems that the least fertile soils, those with the least amount of nutrients for the trees to use to grow, tend to be the most toxic. Okay? Which makes sense. You know, this is possibly one reason why koalas eat certain types of eucalypts and they live in certain areas with more nutrient-rich soils. Because obviously if you’re a tree trying to grow in very nutrient-poor soil, you don’t really want to be eaten. At least you can’t afford to regrow your leaves as often.

So, the koala’s diet is based 100 percent on these leaves. And koalas are one of only three mammals known to only survive on a diet solely based on eucalyptus leaves. And the other two mammals are also Australian, and they are the Great Glider, a type of marsupial that glides between trees, and the Ringtail Possum, which many of you may see if you are in cities like Melbourne and Sydney. These are those very small possums with the prehensile tail. The tail that curls up.

So, if other animals try and eat these leaves, whether they’re a cow, or a horse, a person, or a dog, best-case scenario is that they will get incredibly sick, and the worst-case scenario is that they would die. So, this is why you never see eucalyptus leaves on the menu in any Australian restaurants, guys.

This is the reason as well why Koalas have developed such a specialised digestive system for consuming their toxic food and absorbing as much nutrients as possible from this food. So, koalas have a highly-adapted fibre-digesting organ called a caecum, which is huge in koalas. It’s up to two metres long. And other animals have these as well including dogs and humans and horses. However, in humans, the caecum is incredibly small and effectively useless. It is the appendix in humans, which is often removed.

The caecum contains bacteria that break down the fibre into substances and the koala can then absorb these more easily through a process called fermentation, which is where bacteria, yeasts, and other organisms use chemicals to break down substances. So, it is effectively how alcohol is produced from sugar in plant material. That is fermentation.

However, that being said, the Koala can still only get to 25 percent of the fibre it eats. So, only a quarter of the food that it eats it is actually able to get the energy from.

A koala eats between 200 and 500 grams of leaves per day, and their teeth are specially adapted to this diet having sharp front incisors to nip the leaves from the tree and molars at the back that are also kind of sharp used to shear and cut the leaves up.

Water is also absorbed through the leaves by the koala so the koala rarely has to drink unless it is in times of drought where it’s really hot and it obviously is dehydrated.

So, being able to get as much nutrients and energy out of these leaves as possible in this food is incredibly important, because eucalyptus leaves are incredibly low in nutritional value, and this is why koalas have to eat so much. And in fact, it’s also why they have such low metabolisms, meaning that they burn less calories, they can conserve more energy for longer periods of time, and it’s the reason why they sleep so long. So, these guys sleep for up to 22 hours a day in order to conserve energy and digest. And it’s the longest sleeping of any animal, even longer than a slow off from places like South America, right? They sleep for up to 15 or 18 hours a day, whereas, the koala sleeps for up to 22 and then eats for the other two.

Anyway, guys, I hope you enjoy this episode. I hope you don’t mind the biology heavy fact about the well-adapted stomach of Australia’s koala. Make sure you go out there and tell someone these awesome facts, because koalas rule! And keep an ear out next time you go camping somewhere in the forest for the koala’s mating call.

Anyway, guys, I hope you have an amazing weekend and I will chat to you in the next episode. Catch ya!

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